SPRING 2018 | VOLUME 7.2 An anglophone magazine printed on recycled paper celebrating the vibrancy of youth culture in Paris EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jackie Wegwerth DEPUTY EDITOR Katerina McGrath ARTISTIC DIRECTORS Jackie Wegwerth Sophia Foerster PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR Sophia Foerster MARKETING Carenina Sanchez Marissia Tiller STAFF WRITERS Alizée Chaudey Amanda Clizbe Cassandra Ovalle Chanet Smith Clara Prado Henry Hardwick Isabella Christian Joan Jessiman Katerina McGrath Lauren Williams Leonardo Tow Melissa Gomez
Sage Theiss Sakata Sarah Hughes Sophia Foerster Valeriia Serova Vera Jónsdóttir CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Eboni NiCole PHOTOGRAPHERS Georgia Hausmann Jackie Wegwerth Sophia Foerster Tamar Asatiani ILLUSTRATORS Sarah Bentov-Lagman Sophia Foerster EDITORIAL ADVISOR Marc Feustel
TABLE OF CONTENTS 10
Breaking Glass Ceilings by Lauren Williams
Letter from the Editor
Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere by AlizĂŠe Chaudey
How to Be a Better Man by Leonardo Tow
In Art We Trust by Sarah Hughes
The Gray Area by Sophia Foerster
The World as I See It by Tamar Asatiani
Student Spotlight: Chrissy Oyelowo by Katerina McGrath
Viva Latina by Cassandra Ovalle
Striving for Workplace Equality by Eboni NiCole
The American Nightmare by Sage Theiss Sakata
Called to Serve by Amanda Clizbe
Generation Why? by Chanet Smith
Reduce, Reuse, Restyle by Isabella Christian
Pitching Baseball to the French by Henry Hardwick
What Do You Meme? by Melissa Gomez
Presidential Remarks by Vera Jónsdóttir
I Got the Power! by Joan Jessiman
McMarketing by Valeriia Serova
Media Giants You’ve Never Heard of by Clara Prado
wenty-eight years after Snap’s hit song we’re left wondering if we really do still have the power. With news stories that leave our faith in the world dwindling, we’re consistently questioning if our vote counts, if our choice to recycle is going to make a significant impact or if adopting a zero-waste lifestyle would make a difference when everyone else persists with their old habits. Essentially, we question our place in the world and our ability to provoke change. However, 28 years later, Snap! remains correct. We do have the power, and arguably more than we did almost three decades ago. We’re beginning to see an incredible shift where movements gain momentum almost overnight. A major agent of change in this transformation is our connection with media. Even if we are not personally voicing opinions online, the access we have to advocacy groups, protest event invitations and open, rapid and widespread conversation informing us about current events is making it easier for one person to make a difference. Our tech savviness has become an essential tool to help us “save” the world through direct effects on our advocacy and how we take action and the sense of empowerment it gives us beyond our use of it. Throughout the process of creating this magazine, I’ve felt empowered. For me, it stemmed from knowing that with the printing of this book, our voices were being heard, our words read and our ideas considered. For our team, empowerment grew with the ability to share stories which go unheard by many. For Sage Theiss Sakata, it’s in the featuring of American Dreamers who are remaining resilient despite the turmoil that has consumed their life since the cancellation of DACA. For Eboni NiCole, it’s in drawing attention to the persistent inequality that black women face in the workplace. For Leonardo Tow, it’s in learning what actions a man can take to be a better ally to women in the #MeToo era. Throughout the magazine, empowerment stems from an understanding that we’re not passive victims of life around us, but rather empowered individuals capable to ignite great change. I’ve got the power. My team has the power. And we sincerely hope that the pieces in this book leave you with that same feeling too.
Jacqueline Wegwerth Editor-in-Chief
In Art We Trust Can’t-miss art exhibitions coming to Paris this season. BY SARAH HUGHES
Peter Kogler, Untitled, 2018 in Artistes et Robots
e’ve all been caught by manifestations in France: from April 3 to June 28, the French national rail system will be on a rolling strike for two days out of the week. This tradition of protest and debate has been around for years. However, in the age of technology, the stage for social engagement in France has extended past the streets and into the realm of art and culture. These four artistic exhibitions opening this spring in Paris illustrate how Parisians and foreigners alike are coming together to react, respond to and reflect on imminent environmental, evolutionary, nutritional and technological changes.
Devenir March 9 – July 8, 2018 Collège des Bernadins 20 Rue de Poissy Paris, 75005
Artistes & Robots April 5 – July 9, 2018 Grand Palais 3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower Paris, 75008
Since March 9, the Collège des Bernardins, one of the oldest buildings in Paris dedicated to the reflection and research of modern society, has been hosting a very original exhibition, inviting visitors to experience art in three stages—past, present and future. Bringing together ten emerging artists, professors and alumni of the École des Beaux-Arts, the event tackles questions such as, “How do we evolve in the world around us? What is our position in climate or political situations, and what can we do today to influence the transformation of our dynamic world tomorrow, the day after and in the years to come?” The “Present” section of the Devenir (becoming) exhibition commenced in early April and will continue until July 1. Over these three months, the public is invited to observe the collective work of three selected artists and follow its evolution. From July 5 to 8, the “Future” will then be examined by round tables open to the public on the question of becoming. The underlying desire of Devenir is to explore the interaction between our own personal evolutions as well as those of the world which we interact with from day to day. Through a highly personal art experience, visitors will be encouraged to come back on several occasions to witness the ever-evolving exhibition, and to come to appreciate that nothing is immutable.
This electronics-centric project showcased at the Grand Palais provides a closer look into the new and emerging virtual world. The work on display highlights issues and common questions around the reign of high technology, more specifically: the advent of the artificial imagination. Is a machine able to match the skills of an artist? Could a robot replace a painter or a sculptor? To what extent can one speak of artificial creativity? From Miquel Chevalier’s interactive virtual garden to Michael Hansmeyer’s computational architecture, more than 30 installations, all generated by computer software or robotic machines, have been programmed and installed to mark our sensitive era of the technical revolution that balances on the intersection of fiction and reality. From artists who create machines to machines that then create art, the public will be exposed to robotics, life-size installations and “dream machines” that accentuate not only the intelligence of computer programs, but also their creative abilities. If you’re looking for a total immersion of digital art, this is the event for you.
Image credits: (top) © Photo Aldo Peredes for the Rmn-Grand Palais 2018 © Adagp, Paris 2018 (center) © Photo Aldo Peredes for the Rmn-Grand Palais, 2018 (bottom) Joe Kake for Food Art Week
Food Art Week Paris May 31 – June 8, 2018 Multiple locations As its name suggests, this festival brings a combination of cuisine and contemporary art to the streets of Paris and its suburbs. This sustainable NGO project was founded in 2015 by Berlin’s one-of-a-kind food/ art space, Entretempo Kitchen Gallery, with the mission to promote positive environmental and social change through shedding light on issues related to our eating habits. A new theme is adopted each year. Being exhibited in a country that is home to the mouthwatering pain au chocolat and crème brûlée, it is quite surprising that this year’s festival will deal with the subject of “sugar” with the goal of spreading awareness of the current epidemic of diabetes and sugar’s detrimental effects on our health and the environment. For nine days, people will be invited to come together in different venues with exciting art exhibitions, performances, lectures, workshops and, of course, plenty of yummy dinners and culinary experiences. Food Art Week ultimately hopes to connect people through eating, seeing, listening, reading, learning and dancing, to share their backgrounds, values and aspirations for a smarter, healthier future.
We Love Green June 2–3, 2018 Plaine de la Belle Etoile Paris, 75012 A two-day arts and music festival taking place over the first weekend of June, We Love Green is dedicated to spreading awareness of environmental issues and forward-thinking design. Everything from the eclectic lineup to the eco-friendly art displays, the entire We Love Green experience is bound to its green commitments. So, don’t worry about losing all your euros in the mosh pit, as the 2018 edition is 100% cashless! Simply order your wristband online, sync it with their online app and top it up on the go to fund your festival munches and merchandise. While boasting a lineup with some of the freshest and most exciting names in music including Björk, Tyler the Creator, King Krule, Jamie xx and Migos, the festival has also become a hub for educational discussion. The “Think Tank” is an ideas lab that will be located right in the center of the festival. Its aim will be to promote environmental innovation through the exchange of free-flowing ideas, generating lasting impacts on our daily choices and habits to better our ever-changing world.
Miguel Chevalier, ExtraNatural, 2018 in Artistes et Robots
Breaking Glass Ceilings The rise of women in non-traditional roles. BY LAUREN WILLIAMS ILLUSTRATED BY SOPHIA FOERSTER
omen have been working, while also raising families, since the 1960s and 1970s during the social revolution when they began heading to work outside of the home. Currently, only a handful of the most powerful positions in the world are held by women. Having women in powerful roles such as these changes the norm and shapes a new vision of power not only for women but also for men and everyone in between. While getting to these places is an impressive feat, are things really changing in the workplace for women, especially after the rise of the #MeToo movement? The issue now isn’t getting there, but what these women can do, beyond their roles, to make the spaces in which they work more inclusive places for future generations of women. Here are five women who are leading the way in their field. Zanny Minton Beddoes In 1898, a book was published outlining the faults of women journalists, one of them being their unreliability and a disregard for deadlines. It gave warnings to women like, “journalism is not a game, and in journalism, there are no excuses,” even claiming that women-journalists are unreliable as a class. After 172 years, the Economist finally got its first female editor-in-chief: Zanny Minton Beddoes. The now fifty-one-year-old editor started her career after earning her degrees in two of the most renowned universities in the world, Harvard and Oxford. She started at the Economist in 1994 and continued working her way up the ladder ever since. She held many different positions such as working on macroeconomic adjustment programs in Africa and the transition economies of Eastern Europe before being considered for the editor role. One of her main goals when she became the head of the company was to make sure the seasoned magazine wouldn’t be seen as the “grandpa at the party.” She made sure to bring it into the digital age; upping their social media presence and digital platforms. When asked about how it felt to be the first woman editor-in-chief, she said she was looking forward to when a woman being the editor-in-chief was no longer newsworthy.
While this is encouraging, there still is evidence that although women are obtaining more degrees in journalism, they are being pushed out by institutionalized sexism. Can having more women at the top create a more comfortable place for women in a working environment? Beddoes argued at the Human Potential Forum that it is, in fact, women in positions such as hers who must take on the role of creating spaces for women in the world of work. Indra Nooyi There are currently only 32 female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies and Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, holds one of those rare spots. Before her, there have been four other PepsiCo CEOs, all men. High ranking positions such as hers have been reserved for men due to long working hours and the idea that women have more familial responsibility. Nooyi was born in Madras, India in 1955 to a conservative family where traditional gender norms were followed. Despite this, she has been breaking glass ceilings since adolescence. Indra Nooyi joined a cricket team and an all-female rock band in her youth, something incredibly uncommon for women from her town. Now, as the CEO of PepsiCo, she’s committed to making positive change within the big snack
and soda company. Nooyi was prepared to push the company farther than selling chips and soda. She rose through the ranks of the company by having a vision, both economically and socially. PepsiCo’s 2025 performance goals include reaching gender parity at the management level and equal pay for genders. These are important goals because while there is a need to even out the male to female ratio of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, it’s important to have equality within the company at lower levels as well. One woman in charge cannot change the environment of a company, yet more women within the fabric of the company can. Amanda Signorelli In 2017, one of Google’s staffers wrote an open letter implying that women’s “stronger interest in people” and “neuroticism” might make them less naturally suited to being coders at Google. There has even been research done proving that from as young as elementary school girls are being discouraged from studying the sciences. In fact, among holders of computer science degrees, only 28 percent are women. It’s safe to say that there is still plenty of sexism in the tech field, but Amanda Signorelli has risen above that stigma. At only twenty-six years old she has become the CEO of Techweek, a purpose-built conference in which different companies showcase their brands. Signorelli has helped Techweek, now one of the tech industry’s top conferences for investors and entrepreneurs, to spread all over the country. After graduating from Washington University, she was inspired by Techweek as they support tech startups outside the Bay Area. She leads the company with the idea that diversity is power. For her, fostering a more diverse workplace is not only a professional mission but a personal one as well. An important detail is that the week caters to an international audience, committing her brand to creating a diverse space in the tech world far beyond just gender. Her mission is purposefully intersectional, tackling both gender equality and diversity.
cal work. Walmsley has been clear about her goals as CEO. While her first priority is work, she is driven to make a difference. She explained to Business Insider, “We should be much more proactive about sponsoring and supporting all types of diversity to get to the senior leadership positions.” It’s an impressive feat that she was able to move into this space and hopefully, Walmsley will be able to aid the pharmaceutical world with equality in roles at all levels for women. Equality doesn’t just come about from one woman at the top, it requires a change in culture. Adena Friedman Money, drugs and testosterone, all words that come to mind when Wall Street is mentioned. It is the ultimate epitome of a man’s world. In fact, the 2010 census data report shows that women are leaving the financial services industry at a faster rate than they are joining. That is exactly why Adena Friedman is such a big deal. She is the first female executive of a major stock exchange company, NASDAQ. Before joining the intense world of the stock market, Friedman earned a black belt in Taekwondo and credits the art for building her leadership skills. It’s incredibly hard for women to so much as get acquainted with one of these companies. As it has been a male-dominated field from conception, “self-reliance is an important skill for anyone navigating the corporate world.” That rings true, especially as a woman in a world as stereotypically masculine as that of finance. It’s important to create more equal opportunities so that women are able to move into these roles and rise above due to their abilities and not fall behind just because of something as insignificant as networking opportunities being deemed too masculine. The idea that women need to have advanced leadership skills not necessarily to do their job well, but just to navigate their workplace is problematic. Of course, leadership skills are necessary, yet it should be a common need for everyone in the workplace, not solely for women to be able to be heard. More women working on Wall Street could only make for a more productive, inclusive and forward moving industry.
Emma Walmsley While 57 percent of pharmacists are women, men hold most of the high-ranking positions in the field. This kind of statistic isn’t uncommon in the world of medicine. A common example is how most nurses are women while most surgeons are men. Women tend to take lower roles in the health field and are less visible in the sciences in general, but Emma Walmsley has become the first woman to e v e r run a major pharmaceutical company. She graduated from Oxford and was an executive at the beauty brand L’Oréal before moving to pharmaceuti-
How to Be a Better Man Women speak out about how men can be better allies in the #MeToo era. BY LEONARDO TOW ILLUSTRATED BY SOPHIA FOERSTER
hen I was a kid, I had watched as my sister was catcalled on the city streets and I knew what I was seeing was wrong. This was when I realized such harassment affected my sister and billions of other women on a daily basis. To this day, I have never catcalled a woman, never honked my horn or shouted at her as she passed by. When I averted my eyes from a friend’s cleavage, I was called “gay,” which of course was meant as an insult coming from a man who was clearly a bigot. I came to realize what this man was actually saying was that if he could dismiss my actions as coming from a place of homosexuality, he could excuse his own misogyny. My initial thought was that it would be hard to find a thinner excuse than that one. My second was that perhaps many men use excuses like this one and the entitlement in that rationale made me determined to find how I could be a better ally of women. I talked to my friends when I noticed them making inappropriate jokes or objectifying others, rather than simply avoiding participation. I began to speak out more readily on social media. I supported my female friends emotionally when they were dealing with harassment. Unfortunately, none of it ever came close to being enough, even within my own small social circle. I went out with friends and they frequently told me stories of how they were treated. For instance, after meeting up with my best friend in West Hartford, as we had planned to have lunch together, the first words she said to me were, “that parking lot you always use is catcall central.” When I began dating one of my best friends, she told me stories of her being catcalled on the streets and dozens of stories about rape and sexual assault at her university. I wanted to play a larger role in changing these patterns of sexism, but at 16 I wasn’t sure what else I could do. Finally, I went to university myself. My social environment changed and expanded to include hundreds of women, some of whom began to tell me stories about their experiences with the issues I had been attempting to mitigate, in some small way, since my adolescence. It became clear to me
just how necessary it is to consider how to be a better ally of women. I realized that male allyship required more than simply not partaking in problematic actions and more than improving our own behavior. I learned that it is about men’s mindsets and the actions we take to affect change on a greater scale. Last year, Harvey Weinstein and the ensuing #MeToo movement shone a light on the systemic issues of sexism and sexual harassment. The dialogue expanded to include more than just women, open-minded men and the LGBTQ+ community and finally attracted the attention of those who had been able to dismiss sexual harassment for so long. In the Atlantic Sophie Gilbert writes, “[A]s horrifying as the allegations against Weinstein have been, more appalling still is the sense that his behavior isn’t uncommon. That in industries across the world, from media to music to modeling to academia, women have encountered their own Weinsteins and have deduced, for whatever reason, that nothing could be done about it and nobody cared. The power of #MeToo, though, is that it takes something that women had long kept quiet about and transforms it into a movement.” This pervasive sexual harassment greatly impacts the day-to-day lives of women, but it seems that it took this movement to genuinely bring about a serious global dialogue. For the last few months, I have been engaging in that dialogue with women at the American University of Paris. My goal has been to better understand what the concept of men being allies to women means to them. In doing so I asked women what we, as men, can do differently. All of the women I interviewed agree that if we are to be allies to women we need to ally ourselves to all women, we need to respect the principles of consent, we may partake in the dialogue, but our voices should never be louder than those of women and that most importantly, we need to consistently call out other men when they engage in sexist behavior. Basia Diagne, an 18-year-old Senegalese-American law, history and society student told me, “For me, men being allies to women means, first and foremost, equality. As a bi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic woman, I have little time or respect for men seeking to be ‘allies’ or ‘feminists’ if they do not display the same level of ‘allyship’ to all women, that is to say women of color, women with disabilities, lesbian women, queer women, trans women, old women, poor women, women who have no desire to bear chil-
dren, prostitutes; the list goes on and on.” Frances Eby, a 20-year-old from the United States, was clear that feminism and equality must be inclusive, “The most disadvantaged people in our society are women of color so I think you can’t have a discussion about what it means to be a feminist and what men need to do in order to be feminists if you’re not talking about feminism that is intersectional.” Diagne was just as adamant, stating that, “If men want to be supportive and effective allies to women, it is imperative that they first acknowledge and seek to continuously call out and dismantle systematic sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia and classism.” When asked about men participating in the gender equality conversation, Gabby Guichard, a 25-yearold from Paris studying gender, sexuality and society, pointed out, “I am all for allies being voices in the cause, but it’s not about your privilege or your guilt about masculinity.” Most women pointed out that the privilege afforded to men means we need to be conscious that we have been indoctrinated to perceive inequity as the norm. Guichard continued, “It’s a lot of unlearning behaviors and realities that we assume are inherent.” Marie Anselmi, a 19-year-old mathematics and computer science major from the United States offered numerous examples of what she referred to as an “interesting gender dynamic in conversations” both in and out of the classroom. She found that men in her field often speak as if she and other women are less science-literate than they presume themselves to be. Eby confirmed that “in the classroom [she hears] a lot of language that, while it doesn’t mean to be, is unconsciously misogynistic.” Guichard noticed an even harsher dynamic online, “I play video games a lot and I get treated like absolute shit because I’m a woman, so I tend to either hide it or just stop caring or mute the microphone or whatever.” Such accommodations to avoid harassment or conflict are not unusual and begin at an early age. By the age of 12, Guichard had experienced harassment walking down the street and by 14 was aware that her sexual orientation would cause a whole other level of discrimination, stating that “I’ve had more mistreatment because I’m bisexual than because I’m a woman.” Anselmi also found herself making many accommodations in several aspects of her life, from travel to dating, in an effort to ensure her personal safety. For example, she has found herself having to think quickly in uncomfortable social situations so as to
“If men want to be supportive and effective allies to women, it is imperative that they first acknowledge and seek to continuously call out and dismantle systematic sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia and classism.”
avoid potentially unsafe circumstances. The constant necessity for this sort of management is something that men never have to think about, yet it pervades the social lives of women. Eby found that even in a conversation about feminism she has to manage her own behavior in this same way, “I have to be very conscious of the tone that I take, conscious that I don’t get upset or raise my voice, that I don’t become this shrill B-I-T-C-H as they would call me because the minute that I lose my composure, I automatically become this crazy feminist bitch and anything I’ve said has lost its agency. In that situation, I am having to take on extra emotional labor to present myself in a way that they would respect. All of a sudden that becomes my burden to bear, whereas they can say the most outlandish misogynistic things about women and about feminism; about how ‘there is no wage gap’ or ‘in the United States women and men have an equal playing field.’ They can say these outrageous things that insult my agency as a woman, that insult the things I have overcome because I am a woman, that insult the struggle that sisters all over the world are going through, but I’m still the one that has to remain calm. I can’t be angry, I can’t be loud because then I’ll get dismissed.” In the midst of this reality, Diagne pointed out that our re-education as men must begin with “self-reflection, acknowledgement and commitment to continuously check yourself and your fellow men. Just because you do not discriminate against women or make sexist jokes does not grant you the ally card, especially if you condone the same for the men around you. Being an ally means checking other men and holding them accountable for their own actions, rather than continuing to normalize patriarchal oppression.” She cautioned, however, “if you are a man who considers himself an ally to women, your voice should NOT be louder nor drown out theirs.” This was in fact the overriding message from all of the women interviewed. We are responsible for our own actions as well as the actions of our fellow men. Eby was realistic that we have a great deal of indoctrination to overcome, acknowledging that “it’s not that all men are inherently bad or that all men engage in problematic behaviors, it’s the fact that most men don’t call out other men.” She is correct in her assertion that, “it has a lot more weight coming from another man than coming from a woman. When a man tells you to knock it off it’s a lot different than when it comes from a woman so I think that’s the biggest thing that men can do to be allies to women.” As challenging as we may think it is, we are being called on to be genuine in our alliance, rather than only claiming to be. Eby said, “For me, what it means for men being allies is being an ally even when it’s not easy. Do it when nobody’s looking, so call your boys out when they make a rape joke or when you hear them talking about women in an objectifying way. It’s doing it all the time. Being woke is really hard, it takes a lot of work.”
“It’s not that all men are inherently bad or that all men engage in problematic behaviors, it’s the fact that most men don’t call out other men.”
Student Spotlight: Chrissy Oyelowo A new club is paving the way for conversations about diversity at AUP. BY KATERINA MCGRATH PHOTOGRAPHED BY SOPHIA FOERSTER
he American University of Paris is home to students from all over the world, representing 108 nationalities and speaking 65 languages. With such a diverse crowd, education is not only academic but cultural, social and psychological. Many students are taking steps to involve themselves in bettering the experience of others by encouraging expression of self and finding a sense of power in the university setting. As a student pushing for student empowerment, Christina Oyelowo is in the spotlight for Peacock magazine’s Spring 2018 issue. Christina Oyelowo is a 20-year-old from Minneapolis, Minnesota. As part of an incredibly diverse student body, many assume that issues of discrimination have been left in the past, but Oyelowo stands up for those who still find themselves experiencing harassment due to their race, gender or sexual orientation in this modern world. In the summer of 2017, a student reached out to her about “miscommunications; essentially people were talking about race and ethnicity and kept misidentifying her and she was having a really hard time with it.” Initially, the student (who prefers to remain anonymous) reached out to the founder of Woke Week from the year prior, who referred her to Oyelowo. She “was a bit shocked that [she] was a resource for someone,” but jumped into the role quickly. Thus the Diversity Club was born. Oyelowo’s personal experiences of identity confusion gave her inspiration for the club. She is half-Nigerian, half-American, which leaves her with a triple identity: “I identify as black, I identify as white, and I identify as African.” Although she is part of each of those groups, she never has felt quite “enough” for each one, and her identity struggle has followed her for most of her life. Her experiences of discrimination started in Minneapolis. Growing up there was a positive experience up until the election of Donald Trump, when “people started becoming more
passive-aggressive, and small instances of aggression and mistreatment occurred.” Since moving to Paris in 2016, she has had conflicting experiences. At AUP, people “know their origins and are more accepting and open to discussing ethnicities.” At the same time, Oyelowo is often subject to racial profiling by French citizens when in nicer arrondissements, or even in her own courtyard. People either ask her if she’s lost or if she belongs there, “they often assume that I’m up to no good when I’m just spending time with friends.” Many students have experienced discrimination, but Oyelowo took on the role of leader in order to provide a safe environment for students. She does not often “seek out leadership positions, but [she] tends to take on that role.” Oyelowo discussed her own experiences of being a student leader in Paris, compared to being a student in America, as a positive challenge. A lot of this derives from choosing to study abroad: “In Paris, I am in a different country, with a different language, and I am on my own. You have to be more of an adult right away when choosing to move to a foreign country.” She admits that universities in America often have more structured school programs that are designed to make students feel at ease and able to express themselves. Although it may be easier to fall into preconceived safe spaces, being in Paris “means that you have to grow up. You are forced to be mature.” This transition from youth to adulthood brought Oyelowo a better sense of strength, and a drive to do so for other students. Oyelowo started AUP’s Diversity Club in the fall of 2017 to “connect students together to give them a space and voice to discuss difficulties that they have experienced, especially issues that they may not be able to talk about in a classroom setting,” including
misogyny, racial bias or harassment from teachers or students. Despite the diversity of the AUP community, many students find themselves marginalized as a minority on campus. The Diversity Club aims to “empower students by making them feel more comfortable,” and also “makes sure that bad things aren’t happening on campus that fly under the radar just because other privileged students don’t experience them.” Oyelowo attempts to nip conflicts of race, gender and sexual orientation in the bud: “If there is something that is bothering a student or making students uncomfortable on campus, we try to be a buffer between them and the problem and support them in any way we can.” In addition to its role in managing these issues, Oyelowo is also interested in using the club to celebrate different cultural backgrounds and identities and challenge students’ potential biases or stereotypes. Although it is a newer club, the Diversity Club has accomplished quite a lot. “We had a couple events focused on Black History Month, we did a Privilege Walk, and we had a student debate. There also were some Diversity Club events for Women’s Week.” As the Diversity Club is fairly new, Oyelowo also encourages student involvement in establishing exactly what they expect from such a club. The Privilege Walk took place in early February on the AUP campus. Oyelowo described the walk as a social experiment “where students can see how they may be benefitting from or being marginalized from certain social systems.” Oyelowo ran the walk, bringing together students from all walks of life to confront their own realities. Privilege walks shed light on privileges that may not be seen as such. “If you were able to have more than 50 books in your household
The Diversity Club’s Privilege Walk on February 8, 2018.
growing up, that’s a privilege. If both of your parents got to go to college, that’s a privilege,” stated Oyelowo. The walk included a debrief afterwards, as students found themselves either in the front or back of the room and weighed their own privileges in relation to classmates. Oyelowo described the experience as an important one, “especially because a lot of students at AUP have privileges that they might not be aware of. It’s an eye-opener for a lot of people.” For other students at AUP, diversity remains an important topic of discussion. Diana Hickox, a sophomore from the Boston area in Massachusetts, described her experience moving from “a town that wasn’t very diverse” to AUP, meeting people from places that “my friends from back home probably wouldn’t even know existed,” as an eye-opener. She mentioned that although AUP is a diverse community, she still sees situations of “microaggression” on campus, but she doesn’t believe that they are intentional. She advocated for diversity clubs on all university campuses, because these sorts of clubs “make people aware that their words can hurt others, even if they don’t realize what they’re saying is offensive.” In this day and age, Hickox thinks that “it’s important for people to understand the people they interact with or work with in order to create positive relationships,” and that Diversity clubs can help “break down cultural walls.” Michelle Kuo, AUP professor of the International and Comparative Politics and History Departments, described student feedback, as many “told [her] they had been thirsting for a space where they can have real conversations about race, mental health, nationality.” Although the club is a recent addition to AUP, Kuo was “moved by the students who created the Diversity Club”, and advocates for students to take matters
into their own hands when confronted by important issues such as discrimination. Clubs such as these are “how social change begins: with hard, thoughtful and searching conversations.” To other students who want to find a sense of power, Oyelowo recommends “meeting like-minded individuals,” whether doing so by joining student government, making a club or getting in touch with faculty members. In her opinion, it is more difficult to make significant progress at AUP due to its half-European, half-American structure. Since “we are a commuter campus and do not have a dorm setting, there is a lack of community in the traditional American university sense.” The key, in her words, is to “find professors that support you” and to develop a sense of responsibility and identity in order to make a difference. Oyelowo’s decision to create the Diversity Club has taken AUP forward a step in encouraging student identity and appreciation of culture. In the modern age, Oyelowo describes conversations about race, gender and sexual orientation essential— “You’re not going to evolve as a society if those who are being marginalized can’t seek opportunities to advance or grow.” Even for those who don’t suffer from discrimination of any sort, they are inevitably affected by misogyny, racism and homophobia because “it’s going to be affecting someone you know, someone you care about. It’s everybody’s issue.” Although small private universities may not be able to solve deeply-rooted societal issues, Oyelowo remains positive about making first steps. “It’s kind of a middle ground—the next questions are what do we do from here? How do we resolve these issues? But starting a conversation already opens new doors.”
Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere A cultural conundrum for third culture kids. BY ALIZÃ‰E CHAUDEY PHOTOGRAPHED BY GEORGIA HAUSMANN
here are you from?” A basic conversation-starter. A question, however, where I always find myself awkwardly hesitating and answering vaguely. I had an international childhood; I grew up in five different countries and traveled to twice as many. I took my first steps in the Ivory Coast, spoke my first words in Saint Martin, learned to read in Mali, made my first friends in Senegal and chose to study in France. I’ve heard that children like me are sometimes referred to as “Third Culture Kids” (TCK): a term that suggests that children who spend their childhood or a portion of it outside of the country they were born in belong to a “third” culture, separated from that of their home or parent’s countries. It’s an amalgam of many unique experiences. According to David C. Pollok, an American sociologist, author and speaker, “The third culture kid frequently builds a relationship to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense
of belonging is in relationship to others from a similar background.” Third culture kids are not new, they are not few, but they have grown with different experiences than mono-cultural people that make them different to the eyes of the people around them. The third culture kid experience comes with advantages and disadvantages, struggles and opportunities. The third culture kid is bilingual, trilingual and sometimes more. They are children of the world; open minded and adaptive, able to cross cultures with ease and never afraid of being suddenly immersed in a foreign country. The third culture kid shows increased tolerance, he is able to understand and respect different countries’ social norms and to appreciate food, music and overall culture being completely different from one country to another. The third culture kid knows that there is more than one way to look at situations that they are experiencing. They have a “third dimensional” view of the world. Malick Keishi Rupert comes from a military family and was brought up by a Japanese mom and an American dad. Rupert moved around quite a lot in his childhood. He lived in Japan, Germany, the United States and France. “Whenever I’m faced with a problem or a question, I try to think about what I would’ve done based on where I would be.” He explained. “I picked up along the way cultural ideals and respects that I hold dear to me, like being punctual, loyal and creative, for example.” Being raised abroad shapes the third culture kid’s way of seeing the world around them. They crave wanderlust and adventures and are constantly inhabited by the same fear: being stuck in one place forever. That explains the craving to find jobs and internships all around the world and the overall attraction to international colleges rather than in-state universities. “I think growing up abroad gives you more opportunities and pushes you to want to experience more,” confirmed Sasha Wilson. Born in the United States and raised in China, Sasha Wilson identifies as a TCK. “That’s why I choose AUP, I wanted to make friends with other people that are attracted to experience everything, experience more. I’ll probably keep traveling until I’m like 40 or 50 and then start to think about the idea of settling down somewhere.” Furthermore, being raised abroad allows children to get more job opportunities. Communication, flexibility, problem-solving, eagerness to learn, ability to work with co-workers and determination are key qualities employers look for, often shared by third culture kids. “Nowadays, you can’t get very far with speaking only one language. Sure, English is required, but it’s not sufficient. The more languages you speak the more opportunities you get,” explained Quentin Palasti. Palasti was brought up by a French-Hungarian dad and a French-Italian mum. After he was born in France, he moved to Italy, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, the United States and finally came back to France to study here at AUP. He speaks Italian, French, English and German fluently. “I got a few jobs almost just because of the languages I spoke.” On the subject of job opportunities, Rupert told me that he “had the privilege to see so much by traveling and took in so much of the world, I think it’s something I can offer and that is going to help me in life, whether or not I want it to.”
But belonging everywhere and nowhere also comes with downsides and challenges for the third culture kid to overcome. Moving around a lot makes it hard to make life-long friends. It takes quite the effort to keep in touch when your closest friends are on different continents and in different times zones. The third culture kid will often find himself with friends living in Beijing, Sydney, Nashville, Toronto, Cape Town, and the list goes on. But time differences and long-distance relationships are just the tip of the iceberg. Given that third culture kids have lived in a few different countries, they usually speak at least two languages fluently and end up mixing them without even noticing. That can be a challenge for their families and friends and throughout their education. Sometimes this cultural richness leaves the third culture kid incapable of finding a sense of belonging, confused between drastically different values and cultures and home-sick from a home that doesn’t physically exists. “Where are you from?” is probably the hardest question for a third culture kid to answer. The concept of home doesn’t mean the same thing for a TCK. Home is not a defined place, it’s not your parents’ home country nor the one you lived the longest in. Home is wherever you feel like it is. And sometimes what feels like home isn’t even a place but a person. Indeed, one of the challenges of being a third culture kid is developing a sense of belonging, of commitment and attachment to one culture or to another. “The shock of culture between China and the United States is extremely big. For example, what struck me the most are the holidays. Americans tend to invite a lot of friends over for the Fourth of July for example while Chinese people are more secular—they give a huge importance to family. I used to feel like an outsider at the beginning,” explained Sasha Wilson. Those factors are very important to one’s self-esteem and identity, and when missing that sense of belonging, a third culture kid could find themselves “culturally homeless.” Culturally homeless individuals often experience confusion over their identity, especially because the third culture kid is frequently abroad during the adolescent development years when identity is most solidified psychologically. Leanna Rose Davis was brought up by an American dad and a South Korean mom. She grew up in England, Japan, the United States and Korea and finds herself in the very heart of that conflict, struggling to juggle between identities “I identify the most with the American culture but I’m fighting every day to keep my Korean background alive. I don’t want to forget a part of me and it gets me confused sometimes”. The third culture kid will find a sense of belonging not in a place or a specific culture, but among others from the same background. Third culture kids fit
everywhere and nowhere at the same time, which can be quite confusing for most people. “I don’t really identify with any culture I’ve lived in. I have aspects that I dislike from all of them, so I equally choose not to identify with any,” said Rupert. “Sometimes one nationality is more convenient than another, so I’d take over one depending [on] who I’m talking to: It’s easy to tell Americans that you are from the U.S. rather than explaining ‘I’m Japanese but I grew up in the states but not only in the states but I’m also American.’” “Where are you from?” Depending on who you are, you will get a different answer from me. I’ll either be from Senegal or from around the world, and both answers will be the truth. Belonging everywhere and nowhere at the same time has given me a sense of freedom. I wouldn’t trade my experience as a third culture kid and the opportunities that came along with it for anything. The possibilities for the future appear endless. I’ve gradually built myself an identity that is a collection of experiences, people and cultures, each of which I’ve hand-picked. The multiple parts of my identity are not mutually exclusive, they are complementary. Being a third culture kid doesn’t mean I don’t belong anywhere, it means that I can belong everywhere.
“Home is not a defined place, it’s not your parents’ home country nor the one you lived the longest in. Home is wherever you feel like it is.”
Leanna Rose Davis
Viva Latina Afro-Latinas are challenging accepted standards of beauty. BY CASSANDRA OVALLE ILLUSTRATED BY SOPHIA FOERSTER
Amara La Negra
hakira, Jennifer Lopez, Eva Mendez and Sofia Vergara are the women representing the Latin American community around the world. These women are renowned for a similar beauty comprised of light skin and straight hair—a beauty that undermines the diversity of the Latin community. With these women in the spotlight, a single image of Latin beauty is created that fosters a degree of colorism within the community with the emphasis of lightskinned Latinas in media. Recently in media the term Afro-Latinx has made a huge breakthrough, with woman after woman blogging about their life as an Afro-Latina. Rosa Clemente, a PhD candidate in the W.E.B. Dubois department of UMASS-Amherst identified that “Afro-Latino is not about being black and Latino, Afro-Latina means to be a black Latina/Latino,” and goes on to say that “often in the U.S., black becomes synonymous with those that are African-American which then does not take into account the millions of African descendants, black people globally that are in the world and in the USA.” Within the past year the term Afro-Latinx became popular in the media as the Latin community argued about its use and meaning as well as the authenticity of those using it to identify themselves with. Latinx is a relatively new term, created as a way to include individuals that do not define themselves within a certain gender norm. But, when referring to the gender-neutral term Afro-Latinx it represents people of African ancestry with a Latin American heritage. This long-overdue breakthrough for the Afro-Latinx portrays the unseen racial tension within the Latin community, in which the very use of this word to identify oneself with is set to break boundaries and the demeaning done within this community because of the color of one’s skin. Clemente herself has faced a struggle when trying to assert to people that she is indeed a black Boricua, the Tiano term for Puerto Rican, and that being from a Latin American country doesn’t erase the history of her ancestors as people of the African diaspora created through slavery. The Caribbean and South America were some of the most exploited re-
gions in this world due to colonization. Millions of slaves were brought through the Middle Passage (the phase of the slave trade where millions of slaves were transported across the Atlantic Ocean) for more than 300 years. Many of us have African roots or traditions mixed deeply with those that derive from West African tribal culture. Latinx racial ambiguity stems from this mix and is why Latinxs from different countries and islands like to rep their ethnic countries so hard to create a sense of community. But not all Latinxs accept their roots. My own Dominican father has never identified himself as black, as a matter of fact when we point out that he is, he denies it. Latina women may also deny it because it doesn’t look good socially. As a result they resort to skin lightening products because brown isn’t what society wants. Harvard PhD candidate Miari Stephens states, “colorism in Latin America is contingent upon different histories of the various nations and communities in the region. Anti-blackness is global which, of course, affects how Black women across the globe identify.” Stephens continues by recalling the words of a light-skinned Puerto Rican woman saying, “I have black ancestry but I am not black.” She was saying this to acknowledge that while a lot of Latin American people have African ancestry, they most certainly do not all suffer from racism and colorism in the same way and that is important to acknowledge in this conversation about afrolatinidad (identifying as Afro-latinx). Having very light-skinned and Latinx people who can pass for white being the only ones representing afrolatinidad identity reinforces colorism and overshadows dark-skinned black Latinx people and communities and material realities that they face.” This strengthens the tanned, bronzed skin ideals when thinking of what a Latina looks like—thank you to all the telenovela stars for setting this precedent! While colorism is a dividing force in the Latin community, something that unites us is culture. Latinas are known as some of the most fierce and resilient women out there. We’re beautiful and strong, raised in families full of other headstrong women with values taught over years passing from one generation to the next. Yet, what defines and differentiates us from one another are all of the microcultures that exist within the Latinx community. Being from a lower middle-class family in New York City living among a Latinx community constituting of individuals of different colors freely representing different Latin American countries, I never noticed how these very same Latin American societies discriminated against each other until I moved to Miami in 2016. In Miami, Latin culture is evident throughout ev-
“While colorism is a dividing force in the Latin community, something that unites us is culture. Latinas are known as some of the most fierce and resilient women out there.”
ery neighborhood, yet there will be reproach if an individual doesn’t look like the typical Latina one sees throughout the media. There is a set beauty norm within the city of Miami because of the Latin American influence—silky, long, highlighted hair, curved bodies and golden glowing skin are the go-to, and breaking from this norm will definitely get yourself attention with people thinking that you are from out of town. Luckily, there’s a new icon ready to break barriers and beauty norms for Latinas. Embracing her blackness while exerting her Latin culture, Amara La Negra has come to the forefront today to break the mold and become a new, inclusive Afro-Latina idol. Hailing from Hialeah, Florida is Dana Danelys De Los Santos, also known as Amara “La Negra.” Amara La Negra, which literally translates to Amara “the black girl,” was born in Miami to Dominican immigrants. She has been singing since she was a little girl and has been on various Latin American music shows. Amara has become a huge Afro-Latina icon in the past year, using her role in Love & Hip-Hop: Miami as a platform to talk about the discrimination she and other Afro-Latinas in the entertainment business face and to raise awareness for the Afro-Latina identity. Amara is now trying to cross-over into the American entertainment business, but not without obstacles. Amara juggles feuds with other rising Miami entertainers and newfound fame all while trying to keep her Afro-Latina identity and beauty intact. Amara has faced quite a bit in the show’s first season. Viewers of Love & Hip-Hop: Miami know that there is always drama occurring between cast members. The show is notorious for highlighting inner city problems faced and overcome by the influencers and musicians they present each season. But the issue of beauty and identity acceptance by those around her that Amara has been facing throughout the early episodes portrays the reality of discrimination among the Latinx community and within the entertainment industry. “Less Macy Gray, more Beyoncé,” Amara was told by producer Young Hollywood when she tried to begin working with him. Amara’s look is her individual style with her perfectly rounded Afro, brightly colored clothing and makeup that make her skin glow beautifully. Young Hollywood found her look to be “too black” for Amara to be capable of a crossover as a Latina, and when she presented herself as Afro-Latina, he certainly did not like her association with it, seeing it almost as a disadvantage for her. In an interview with radio show The Breakfast Club, Amara discusses how nappy hair and Afros aren’t seen as elegant and how she was pushed to change her style to become more popular with different audiences—when will people learn that hair doesn’t define a person, let alone diminish their talents and make them less beautiful? This discourse Amara has brought up on Afro-Latina beauty has made her famous on social media recently, gaining her interviews with Vice and the New York Times to talk about beauty as a dark-skinned woman, but no matter what she is working on Amara always finds the time to promote awareness of the Afro- Latina community. Prior to Amara, there was Celia Cruz, one of the biggest Afro-Latina singers and entertainers from Cuba. She was the “Queen of Salsa” and one of the
biggest Latin American artists of the 20th century, obtaining 23 gold albums in her lifetime. In 1950, she became lead singer of La Sonora Matancera, a notable Afro-Cuban band, but even faced criticism then because she wasn’t considered pretty enough or up to par with the woman she succeeded in the role. Nonetheless, her voice changed the minds of everyone and surpassed this short-handed criticism. Cruz’s music and rhythm found within her songs honor both her African roots and maintain her strong Cuban culture. In the song “Santa Barbara,” she portrays the depth within Cuban culture of Santeria, which is a mixture of African Yoruba religion and Catholicism created during colonization throughout the Caribbean. Saint Barbara, who is known as the Yoruba deity Chango, has become a highly idolized saint in Cuban culture and throughout the Latin American world through other forms. Cruz’s intersectionality is best represented in “Quimbara” where she makes up a word to create an Afro-Cuban rhythm that breaks language barriers and became one of her biggest hits; even taking her to Africa in 1974 to perform. Many looked up to her and still do. But while Afro-Latina women should look up to the women in their lives, the grandmothers, mothers and tías (aunts) that have made the Afro-Latina strong and persistent, there is a need and there will always be space for another strong influence like Celia Cruz. Time will tell if Amara La Negra makes it as big as Beyoncé or Celia Cruz one day. However, as a household name in Latinx homes, she travels to schools around the United States to speak to students about race and gender-equality, which may influence young Latinx and Afro-Latinx minds to speak up and share their stories to gain momentum and make a difference on the adversity and inequality in the Latin American community.
WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY SOPHIA FOERSTER
Breaking the gender binary.
THE GRAY AREA
magine yourself in a shopping mall, just enjoying a Frappuccino with your friends, when out of the corner of your eye you see someone waving at you. They come over and strike up a conversation. It’s casual and you exchange pleasantries. Suddenly, they refer to you as the opposite gender. Something about it doesn’t feel right, so naturally you speak up. With a defensive calmness you interject, yet they laugh it off by responding: “But come on, you dress like a *insert gender*, you were born as a *insert gender*, plus, identifying as anything else is just the fad right now.” It hurts to be assumed to be something other than yourself. After all, how could you possibly be someone else? “You’re only doing this because it’s in style. Everyone wants to feel ‘unique’ but that’s not the case,” they say. They doubt your humanity and therefore you begin to doubt your own. “There’s no place for anything else here.” As improbable as this might seem, this is just a small example of a larger, more frightening reality for those who experience it. These seemingly insignificant scenes often lead to mental health issues including depression, anxiety and body dysphoria, a disorder that Mayo Clinic defines as “a mental disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance. A flaw that, to others, is either minor or not observable. But you may feel so ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations.” For many, episodes like this one take place on a daily basis: in conversation, in choosing which bathroom to use, within their family structures and even while trying on clothes.
Gender identity for many people is much more complicated than black and white. “Non-binary” is the general umbrella term used for those who don’t identify strictly as one or the other. This includes people who identify as neither or a third gender, those who identify as both, transgender people, gender fluctuating people (their gender identity depends on the day) as well as many other identities. This topic can be hard to grasp, understandably so when looking at the cultural and societal norms throughout history. Recently, the “genderqueer movement” has received backlash for its popularity on the internet, and many people brush it off as being a fad (although homosexuality, even just 50 years ago, wasn’t socially accepted either and was brushed off in the exact same way). Facebook now has over 50 gender options to identify as. Yet the idea of diverse gender identification has a deep cultural history in other parts of the world. In many cultures, more than two genders are recognized. In the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, for example, the Buginese people recognize four genders and a fifth “meta-gender” (which is considered a combination of all genders). Likewise, the Hijra in India is considered a third gender that’s been around for thousands of years, as well as the “two-spirit” indigenous peoples of North America who are thought to be born with the
spirit of both male and female. “A lot of people think this ‘gender revolution’ is a fad. Even my mom thinks that I’m non-binary because that is what’s ‘fashionable’ with people my age, when really, more people are coming out because we finally have words for a better understanding of what we’re feeling,” says Blu Woods, a student from Wisconsin, who explained that people think this rise in non-binary gender identification stems from society growing towards a more inclusive mindset. “I identify as non-binary trans-masculine/demi-boy. Which is basically, I am neither man nor woman, but I feel more male aligned, and I feel comfortable presenting as masculine and being referred to as ‘he.’ I was really far in the closet, even to myself, all throughout high school, but I was perpetually uncomfortable in myself,” Woods says. From the moment a person is born, their gender identity is laid out for them based on their genetic makeup. The identity cards are dealt. The conversation on whether you play with the cards you are given has begun to open up in recent times, yet cultural demands pressure players to stick with the metaphorical rules of the game. “Although recently there has been more public support for things like boys wearing makeup, there are always people who will shame you, simply because society has conditioned them to be
“Gender identity for many people is much more complicated than black and white.”
unwelcoming of that,” Woods says when asked about society’s role in our gender identity. The idea of gender is historically charged with the purpose of categorizing humanity, to able an understanding of relationships and set hierarchies between the binary man and woman. It is based on society’s cultural norms and leads individuals down pre-determined paths. Whether considering career aspects, or personality aspects and general expectations of how to act, these messages are spread throughout media. Businesses use gender stereotyping as a way cater to their “target audiences” yet broadcast subliminal guidelines on how people born with male and female sexual organs should be. These pressures imposed by the media leave little space for people to identify as someone other than the clear binary gender roles. “I see [gender] as a social construct, naturally, that cemented itself as a binary in Western society [unlike other smaller cultures that recognize multiple genders], which should be questioned and challenged. To me, it’s one of the most important things that identifies a person and shouldn’t necessarily have a correlation to biological sex,” says Alen Timofeyev who identifies as a transman, (a person assigned as a woman at birth but iden-
tifies as a man). “Society’s ideas have a huge impact because the ideals are very focused on binary genders … ‘boys should do this, and girls should act like that’ … and people expect you to stick to what you were born into…it’s really hard to break that binary without feeling insecure and judged,” Woods says. Children as young as infants and toddlers begin to learn about the world by experiencing their immediate surroundings. They are introduced to an invasive form of schooling that every child is exposed to in this day and age: the television. Their first comprehension of the world, outside of their immediate family, is built through what they see on a screen which reflects “real life.” At this point, children begin to explore their own identities and the positions they hold within society. But gender-specific dialogues within their school, home and media life (the TV shows they watch and the commercials they see) begin to differentiate between themselves. “Most pressure comes from my family,” says Timofeyev, “They’re convinced that my biology must somehow dictate my appearance … this pressure is unfair and damaging to everyone regardless of their gender.” Gender normative ideology like that of “girls play with the play-kitchen and boys play with trucks,”
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”
or “boys wear blue and girls wear pink,” creates stereotypes and recognizes a hierarchy between genders. While this may seem unrelated to identity, the representation of gender roles is a part of how people construct their identity while growing up. “Even though society has become more open to different genders and gender expression, they still aren’t considered ‘normal.’ For the most part, we’re still in the fifties where men aren’t allowed to be anything but ‘masculine’ and women are pressured into what society views as feminine. Examples are everywhere, from advertising for clothing to movies, magazines and comic books. These stereotypes are damaging not only to trans or non-binary people, but also cis [those who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth] and agender people [those who feel they don’t have a gender],” says Timofeyev. “The media’s biggest mistake is that it perpetuates the harmful binary gender stereotypes while giving almost no information about other opinions, thus alienating trans and non-binary people instead of normalizing them.” While it may be hard for non-binary people to feel like they have a place in the world, the internet has aided in offering support for those who have yet to “come out,” and for those who feel alone. “For now, the only place where I feel safe and welcome is online. I take shelter in trans and non-binary Facebook groups where I can live as my true self,” says Timofeyev. It provides a space, (while not always emotionally safe from aggressors), it promotes healthy connections between mutual experiencers. Slowly but surely, pressures on gender are being lifted. Advertising and marketing are moving away from
gendered pigeon-holing and beginning to promote self-expression and uniqueness (as seen with companies such as Target who in 2015 rejected gendered toy sections for children). Instead of focusing on creating a third space for the “other” gender, gender should be viewed as a free spectrum in which humanity can grow. A spectrum allows for more possibility to be one’s self beyond a few restrictive categories. The fight for recognition and acceptance is far from over, but there is always hope for the future. The goal of this gray area is merely to be accepted and loved for who they are, and to be considered equal. In the words of American journalist Gloria Steinem: “a gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”
The World as I See It Photographer Tamar Asatiani plays with reflections, shadows and exposure to capture constructed realities. WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY TAMAR ASATIANI
ur perception of reality has less to do with what’s happening out in the world and more to do with what is happening inside our minds. There is never a right way to interpret reality. Photography is a way for me to express myself and how I perceive the world around me. I love observing movement and interactions between people, lights and shadows. My love for photography springs from my love for observing the world and its ever-changing combinations of possible realities. Myriads of combinations in life lie unnoticed and with the help of a camera, one can give those realities a static yet permanent life. I believe that nothing human is trivial and all details are worth observing. Among my preferred methods in constructing my images is using mirrors and glass surfaces to capture reflections. I believe that images are one of the means to show the relationship between the real and the illusory. A photograph allows for an illusory view of reality, the way shadows allow for the distorted representation of existing figures. That is the motive behind how I create my images.
Striving for Workplace Equality What will it take for black women to be valued at their full professional worth? BY EBONI NICOLE PHOTOGRAPHED BY SOPHIA FOERSTER
y parents, who are college-educated, stressed to me at a young age that because of my darker skin complexion, I would have to work twice as hard and be exceptional just to be in the talent pool of considerations. “Get as much education as you can,” said my dad during one of his many advice sessions. “If you get a college degree, no matter what field you go into, you have to be paid your worth.” From birth, many black women are taught that higher education is the key ingredient needed to secure not just a good job, but the power to negotiate a salary comparable to one’s “professional” worth. Now that I’m 33 years old with about five years of professional work experience, and hold a BA in English, an MA in journalism and am working on another MA in global communications, I know first-hand that higher education doesn’t necessarily lead to a prominent job that will reflect your worth in salary terms. According to the Economic Policy Institute, on average, black women workers are paid 67 cents on the dollar compared to white non-Hispanic men. And although 29.4 percent of black women hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, they are still paid less than white men at every level of education. Mediocrity is not in the formula for a successful black woman, but we all know mediocre people who produced subpar work and will get paid exceptionally well due to white privilege. Couple that with corporate America’s beloved “culture fit,” which makes being the only or one of few African-American people in a workplace challenging. Why? Many are faced with the “working while black” factor, where professionals of color are policing themselves to not be categorized to fit any stereotype that’s associated with black people in the work place. “The internship that I have now is completely new, in a totally new area, and if I make a mistake, I feel like my mistake is going to be attributed to me being black, not because I’m still learning about this subject,” said Amanda Taylor, a 25-year-old student at the American University of Paris (AUP). “It puts pressure on me because I feel like if I [mess] up in this role, this is going to potentially mess up the opportunity for any other black person that comes afterwards. For us, our mistakes are attributed to our race, not us as individuals. It’s not going to be, ‘Amanda hasn’t learned X Y Z because of whatever reason,’ it’s going to be, ‘See, this is why we don’t need to be hiring black people because this is what’s going to happen.’” On top of this, the media is also guilty of portraying black women as loud, difficult and demanding, said Taylor, who’s in the graduate global communications (MAGC) program. “For me it’s crazy because I identify with all of those negative traits, and I aspire to be this soft delicate woman,” said Taylor. “I also don’t think that this should be looked at as a negative thing, but as an aspect of us. I think it’s a matter of showing more of the soft side of us.” Negative typecasts have been placed on black women throughout American history. Like countless black men, enslaved black women were either desexualized or hypersexualized, but always dehumanized. They were stereotyped as ugly, barbaric, loud and sexually promiscuous. These allotted descriptors were used
as justifications for the mistreatment of black women. Sadly, these stereotypes followed black women through slavery, emancipation, the civil rights movement and into the 21st century. In 2018, the same economic, political and social struggles African-American women faced more than five decades ago are still prevalent in today’s “progressive” modern society, not to mention the effects that slavery had within the black community that produced another ugly “ism,” colorism. First-semester MAGC graduate student Michelah Brown, 23, knows the negative effects colorism can have on multi-racial women of color trying to figure out their identity in society. Brown’s maternal grandmother is Powhatan, Celtic and black, while her maternal grandfather is part Cherokee and black. “I went to schools that were majority black,” Brown said. “I didn’t fit in either. I just felt neglected; alone because of skin tone. My personality has grown to be a strong independent person because it’s formed around how I look.” Brown, who comes from a prominent family in Virginia, said she didn’t really experience a lot of racism growing up. Things slightly changed when she transferred high schools and started attending Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. Although she didn’t experience racism in high school, she felt a different isolation, one that questioned her “blackness.” “When I went to Duke Ellington, I realized I was a different level of black,” she said. “I was told I wasn’t really black because of me being multi-racial. I felt like I got the ‘you’re not that black’ or ‘you’re not as black as us’ or ‘you don’t know what being black is’.” She ended up graduating second in her class and went on to attend Manhattan College in New York City. While she loved life off campus in the Big Apple, her experience at the predominantly white Catholic university introduced her to a form of racism that she says is worse than societal racism. “In school, I didn’t feel like I had a good learning environment, because I felt like all the pressure was on me just being black,” said Brown. “I was there because I worked really hard and I was smart. I just feel like, they had never experienced someone like that. I’ve never experienced that level of racism until I went there. It would be considered institutional racism, not societal racism, but that to me was worse.” During her undergraduate years at Manhattan College, the Black Lives Matter movement was beginning to gain traction with the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner. In 2012, 17-year-old Martin was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida. Zimmerman, who was acquitted of Martin’s death, said he feared for his life although the teen was unarmed. In 2014, Garner, 43, died on a sidewalk in Staten Island, New York City, after being placed in a chokehold by an officer of the New York Police Department.
Officers were attempting to arrest him for selling untaxed loose cigarettes. Garner’s death sparked outrage across the country and many protests, in which Brown participated, took place. “I did a ‘die-in’ for Eric Garner at Penn station; within those three hours, people tried to stop me,” she said. “Off-duty cops were yelling at us. I definitely thought that it was going to be more peaceful… but there I did find the community that I was looking for. I found people who wanted to do things that I wanted to do.” Brown had been struggling to find a community where she belonged and found that kinship in her local Black Lives Matter group. In addition to community, she also gained clarity on her identity, purpose and self-empowerment. “I became secure within myself,” Brown said. “As I was soul-searching, I found my blackness and how I defined who I was. I had to figure out who I was away from race to 100 percent accept myself within my race. I think a lot of people want to define themselves based on their culture, which I think is very important, but I think it’s figuring out the way God made you and accepting that first, and then figuring out how being black defines who you are.” So how do you find normalcy in society where you’re discriminated against twice? For 28-year-old Imani Barbarin, who was diagnosed from the waist down with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy at the age of two, that normalcy never really happens. “I was always trying to get to normal regardless of what situation I was in,” she said. “Being someone with a disability, there’s no such thing as normal, but you’re always striving towards it. You’re always trying to gear yourself towards the type of room you’re in. You’re always pivoting to make sure that you don’t stick out in any one situation.” The second-year MAGC student said creating her own lane has helped her deal with the challenges she faces daily but credits her mom for her fearless attitude. Barbarin wanted to be a ballerina, but no class would take her because of her disability. For a year, her mom went to their local dance school until a class was created for other children with disabilities, Barbarin said. “Literally for a year, she went to this dance studio and asked every single day, ‘Are you going to create a class for disabled kids?’ It took her a year, but she got [the classes] started at that dance studio for me and a couple of friends. That’s the type of woman my mom is,” said Barbarin. Described in her Twitter profile as a macaroon made of black girl magic, disabled pride and feminism, Barbarin runs the no holds barred blog Crutches and Spice, which focuses on her thoughts about the world around her and the life she and others live daily from the perspective of a black woman with cerebral palsy.
“My personality has grown to be a strong independent person because it’s formed around how I look.”
“I’ve been getting in a lot of trouble for things I say online,” she said. “I literally get calls from my dad saying, ‘Please take down what you just wrote.’” As the laughter fades, Barbarin reveals that she’s not too optimistic about future employment opportunities in the United States, and doubts that she’ll ever be paid her worth. Hence the importance of creating her own opportunities via Crutches and Spice, in addition to looking for other professional avenues in Paris. “In a capitalist society that judges value based on productivity, disabled people will always be devalued, so I just feel like those opportunities are hard to find,” she said. “There are opportunities for innovation, but we have to get over our individual prejudices for people to be put in the right positions, but I don’t see that happening on the scale that it needs to.” Alexandra Julien moved to Paris from Boston in search of better career opportunities, and to provide a safer life for her two youngest children who are 15 and 13 years old. After the death of Trayvon Martin, Julien felt her son would have a better chance of avoiding police brutality, racism and other prejudices growing up in Paris. “I came to France and am trying the best I can to stay because I don’t want to go back,” said Julien, who’s a graduate student in the international management program at AUP. “Being black here is also different. I think here, being educated and being black gives you a different status than it does in America for some reason.” Julien, 42, is a Haitian-American who immigrated to the U.S. when she was 16 years old. Although she came to the U.S. with a high school diploma, Julien realized employment opportunities were limited. The only job she could get was being a nurse’s aide. While grateful to simply have a job, she wasn’t sure if the limited employment options were due to racial discrimination. “Being an immigrant, it takes you a long time to see and know how you’re viewed because it takes a long time to take the image of where you came from to where you are,” she said. “When I realized I was a black woman in America, was when my daughter started going to school. I had my daughter when I was 19, so like around [the time I was] 24 or 25 [she was in kindergarten], and that’s when I realized what category we were put in.” In Haiti, people weren’t judged based on color, but on social status. Julien’s parents were of a higher social status, but in Boston, they were seen as just Haitian. Julien started to understand the subtleties of racism with her oldest daughter when she was in public school, so she enrolled her in a private school. Julien relocated to California, where her oldest daughter went to college at 15 years old and graduated with a bachelor’s degree at 19. By this time, she had her two youngest children and received an associate’s degree. Julien thought she’d be able to find a better paying job in Boston with her degree, but she realized quickly that those opportunities didn’t exist for her. “I thought that I would be able to find something better in Boston,” she said. “I went back, and I had to the same old jobs again [as a nurse’s aide]. Again, you have the racism thing. In Boston, it’s really categorized.”
Julien decided to go back to school, where she received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts (U Mass) and with her oldest daughter in graduate school at Harvard, she decided to move to Paris with her youngest children in hopes of living a more fulfilling life. “I stress education,” Julien said. “In America, black women are the most educated ones right now (and also the most underpaid). I’ve been there, and I understood that I had to keep going with my education because without it, it’s worse.” So how long will women of color have to hustle to prove their worth for career opportunities and adequate pay? This is a never-ending fight for black women, according to Brown who graduates in May 2019. “I don’t think I’ll get paid the same as a white woman with a master’s,” she said. “I think having a master’s will help me get paid more money, but it won’t help get me paid what I’m worth. The master’s give me the leverage and ability to fight for more (money).” While Taylor remains hopeful about being paid her worth, she’s not naive to the possibility of being “lowballed,” and believes this practice negates the independent woman rhetoric. “If I’m going to company after company and they’re all low balling me, at that point, I have to do what I gotta do to survive,” she said. “As much as they want to push this ‘you’re independent’ rhetoric you’re still fighting against the whole system. And I think it’s so funny, if that was the case, that this requires me to rely on a man. If I’m not getting paid enough to support myself, now I have to find a partner to help balance it out. You’re going to need that second income and it becomes a need at that point and not necessarily a want. It’s a cycle, it keeps you in a cycle.” Barbarin knows from previous work experience that employers will use her disability against her when hiring candidates for full-time positions. “It’s legal in all but three states in the United States to pay disabled people under minimum wage,” she said. “When we talk about employment for insurance, employers will look at me and say she’s not a good fit because they’re going to have to pay insurance for me. So, I know I’m going to have a harder time finding a job in the U.S.” Julien still believes that the key factor for the empowerment of the black woman is education. “Education empowers black women period,” she said. “We don’t have the same type of power that a white uneducated woman has. Here [in Paris], I feel like this is a second life for me. It’s like I’m seeing things so differently. Things that were so invisible to me are so clear now about race, about how much I lost from being in my own country and coming here.” Higher education is non-negotiable for the future success of a black woman. And while a degree is a component of empowerment for women of color, being fearless and creating your own lane proves to be more beneficial when it comes to self and professional worth. Generational wealth and privilege are luxuries many women of color will never live to experience, but one thing is for certain, the black woman is to never be underestimated.
THE AMERICAN The cancellation of DACA has left Dreamers BY SAGE THEISS SAKATA
Image credit: Rosa Rodriguez
NIGHTMARE scared of what lies ahead.
wenty-year-old Rosa S. Rodriguez recounts the emotional event that took place on September 5, 2017. She was sitting in class and started receiving messages from friends asking if she was okay. As she ran out of the classroom, she saw the headlines pop up on her phone. “You get the news and you don’t want to accept it, so you go to bed hoping it was all just a bad dream.” From that moment, Rodriguez realized the devastating course that her life would take, as everything she has been able to do up until then would slip between her fingers. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), is an executive action taken by President Barack Obama which went into effect in 2012. DACA allowed undocumented immigrant minors, who came to the U.S. under the age of 16 to apply for protection from deportation. Since going into effect, around 800,000 recipients were protected by the program. However, this all changed in the fall of 2017. On September 5, Donald Trump canceled DACA throwing the lives of a whole generation of immigrants into turmoil. DACA recipients are often referred to as Dreamers, which came from a legislation in 2002 called the Dream Act. This bill would have granted legal status to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. However, the chance for a path leading to an American citizenship was torn away as the Dream Act was never passed. Though never passed, it gained popularity among the American Electorate, Congress and American people through political activism that kept pushing up the debate. Once Obama implemented DACA, the Dreamers had faith in the American dream and ideology of the founding fathers: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Sergio Barron, 22, discusses how his life changed since he received DACA. “It was my first hope for a future,” he says. For Barron, he was finally able to legally work, and get in-state tuition. Most importantly, he no longer feared being deported every day. “I always lived in fear that at any moment my mother and I could be deported,” he says. Barron came to the U.S. from Colombia when he was six years old with his mother and sister under a tourist visa. Ever since he immigrated, he has lived in New Jersey. Barron is a passionate and hardworking student majoring in mechanical engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology. Along with his studies, Barron also has a full-time job at Kate Spade. Thanks to DACA, he was finally able to enjoy the normalcy of life. Twenty-year-old Alejandra Marfa discusses how DACA not only gave her normalcy, but also opened doors for her future. Under DACA, she was able to get her driver’s license like every other 16-year-old in her school. “A job and a vehicle means everything in this country,” she says. Marfa was born in Colombia and came to the U.S. at the age of two under a tourist visa. Being in the U.S. under an undocumented status, she saw her life as a series of shut doors to which she did not have keys. As a recipient of DACA, she was able to get
a job and start making money so she could put herself through dance school. She explains this is her true passion. “People don’t realize that so many things in this country require a social security [number],” she says. Rodriguez remembers the day she first held the permit in her hands, and says, that for once she felt accepted. “You feel like you don’t have to hide anymore,” she says. Under DACA, she was able to get an I.D., open a bank account and travel. She remembers growing up and never being able to go to summer camp or go to sport games because they were out of state. “All the steps that I missed out on growing up, I was finally able to do,” she smiles. As Dreamers have benefited from the opportunities made available under DACA, they are now in danger of being stripped of the lives they have worked hard to create for themselves. During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly announced his plans to end DACA immediately, but during the first half of his first year in office, he left it untouched. As Trump pushed the matter aside, nine attorney generals led the campaign to end DACA. These conservative state attorneys threatened to sue Trump, arguing that the program overreached presidential power. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed that DACA was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch. Sessions argues that ending DACA correlates with the freedom, safety and prosperity of the American people. In January, Judge Williams Alsup, a federal judge from California issued a temporary block on the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA. The block requires the Trump administration to maintain the DACA program until legal challenges are met in court. On Thursday, March 29th, Judge Nicholas Garaufis issued a ruling to allow lawsuits aimed at Trump’s racially biased policy to move forward. These two judicial challenges have required the Trump administration to restructure its response. Trump has demanded that any plans to replace DACA must include plans to build an $18 billion wall on the U.S. and Mexico border. Democrats argue that they will not support a funding bill that doesn’t ensure the protection to DACA recipients from being deported. And so, the matter remains in limbo. The future of Dreamers continues to hang in the political balance: how are the Dreamers able to live in the present and plan for their uncertain future? The political limbo that the Dreamers have been pulled into, leaves them not knowing what the next day will bring. Many of them
“I feel helpless, and instability has created my future.”
explained that they have been living in uncertainty for a long time. Trump’s election in November 2016 left many Dreamers feeling hopeless. Barron said that the election felt unreal. “Instant fear entered my heart as I knew almost certainly my future in this country was in jeopardy,” he says. Rodriguez recounts the day of the election, “I didn’t sleep that night,” she says. She explains, “from that moment on, I knew something was going to happen.” Trump’s administration’s approach to immigration makes Barron feel constantly threatened: “I feel helpless, and instability has created my future.” Rodriguez discusses, “it’s scary to know that someone with those thoughts has so much power.” If Congress fails to reach a deal on DACA, thousands of Dreamers will lose documentation, and therefore, protection from deportation. For many Dreamers, this means being sent back to a place that is completely foreign to them. Marfa spoke about the fear of “being deported to a country [she] doesn’t remember or knows anything about.” Barron also discussed the consequences this could have on his life. He would instantly lose his job, healthcare, and ability to work legally. As he is the head of the household, he would no longer be able to support himself and his family. “My life would be devastated,” he says. Rodriguez questions if she would even finish college if DACA ended. She is currently waiting on responses from UC schools in California— it was always her dream to study at UC Irvine. She worries that if she went to college, she would be in student debt for a degree that she couldn’t even use. “A low-skill, low-pay job doesn’t require a college education,” she says. She worries most about her family. She is the oldest out of
her siblings, and since her parents are illegal immigrants, she is her parents’ only option to take care of her brothers and sisters if anything were to happen to them. “This is the scariest part,” she says. While waiting for the fate of DACA, Dreamers continue to live a life defined by instability and suffer from the emotional impact. “Day by day I begin to start stressing more and more,” Barron says. Rodriguez reveals that the only thing that kept her from depression was getting involved with the California Dream Network, where she is a steering representative. This statewide net-
os t: R
work exists among college campuses to take a stand and actively address the current issues affecting undocumented students. Most importantly, it creates a space where undocumented individuals can get educated, find support and fight for social change. Rodriguez explains that doing something for herself and others helped her stay positive. The network, run entirely by youths, is a perfect example of the power created when individuals come together. From organizing protests, conducting workshops, and community outreach, their goal is to educate and inform the public about DACA. Rodriguez discusses the extent to which the network participants will drop everything to be proactive to advocate change. “We miss class, we miss work, and find a way to mobilize,” she says. She believes power begins with a movement that fights for people and that’s where the start of change can be seen. Rodriguez discusses the day she met Darrell Issa, the Republican U.S Representative for California’s 49th congressional district. She went to Washington D.C with a group from the California Dream Network to speak to Issa, looking for his opinion on the current situation and bills proposed for DACA. She remembers, “He immediately refused to talk to us. He said, ‘I don’t want to hear it, I have already talked to a lot of Dreamers.”’ She was shocked. “I just want him to see us as people,” she says. Tears flooded her eyes and her voice trembled. After he refused to speak to her, she recounts how he told them that all 800,000 Dreamers could be deported and that he could care less, going on to saying that if they considered themselves victims, their parents were the ones who committed the crime and should be punished for it. Holding back her tears, Rodriguez said, “I can’t believe he represents us.” As Dreamers ask for support, they are left facing the backs of Congress. Dreamers around America continue to support each other. Marfa encourages other Dreamers to be educated, be aware and keep on working hard. “I
know it will all pay off someday,” she says. “We have worked as hard, if not harder than our peers,” says Barron. Rodriguez discusses that it’s time for Dreamers to be recognized. “We are America’s children,” she says. “I know that what we have been through is really hard, and I know it’s scary to not know what we will be facing in a year, but we have to continue fighting for us, just as our parents did, we are the future too.” As the U.S. continues to address the immigration issue, the future of many people hangs in the balance. Currently, there are more than 10 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and this is growing by 700,000 every year. Congress can no longer ignore this challenge to the nation’s infrastructure. Although the argument is that undocumented immigrants are taxing the U.S. economy, statistics show otherwise. According to the Council of Economic Advisors in the U.S., “A comprehensive accounting of the benefits and costs of immigration shows the benefits of immigration exceeds the costs.” The real challenge for Congress lies in a security issue. 700,000 immigrants are bypassing the law each year to gain entry into the U.S. This breach in security allows easy access to criminal activity, such as drug trafficking and terrorism. However, the majority of immigrants are not criminals, they are simply looking for a better life. As immigration presents a security warning for the U.S., shouldn’t the U.S. have compassion for the security of immigrant families trying to find better lives? The U.S. was built on the ideals of immigrants looking for a better life. The challenge presented by immigration is going to require the best of American ideals—compassion, openness and ingenuity—and the courage to resist the seduction of the security through isolationism. Immigrants are turning to the same country that was founded on principles of freedom, equality and opportunity—the land of dreams.
“I know it’s scary to not know what we will be facing in a year, but we have to continue fighting for us, just as our parents did, we are the future too.”
Outside of Republican Representative Paul Cookâ€™s district office in Apple Valley, California on December 6, 2017.
47 Image credit: Miguel Duran
CALLED TO SERVE How is national allegiance affected by mandatory military service? BY AMANDA CLIZBE PHOTOGRAPHED BY SOPHIA FOERSTER
t one point in his life, every adult Korean male must live in a military barrack, cut off from the civilian world, with just a few of his personal belongings, pausing his life for 21 months of mandatory service—the consequence of a constant threat of war on a divided peninsula. Since the creation of military conscription in 1957, all South Korean men from the ages of 18 to 32 are required to perform roughly two years of military service. They are estranged from normalcy, living in an uncomfortable situation for a long period of time with people that may not be easy to live with—the “bad crazy” kind of people, as South Korean Ki Park would put it. Park began his training on January 5, 2016, pausing his life at The American University of Paris to return to Korea. He spent his first day receiving his new wardrobe while being reprimanded by officials. Though intimidating for some, Park was not fazed—this was a normal part of life, endured by all Koreans like him. Although he admits that 21 months is a long time viewed as a waste of time by many of his peers, for Park, the army gave him something. “I think I am given pride,” he says. Park’s branch played a key role in protecting the country from North Korean invasion during the Korean War, a fact that reminds him of his value to his country. Before he served in the army, he only felt patriotic when Korea made headlines. Being noted for having the best food, winning a sporting event or for playing an important role in a political event. Now, Park thinks of his country with reverence. “I will always go back and fight,” he says. “I would die for my country.” Soldiers in the United States Armed Forces would probably say the same thing, but would any regular citizen share that belief? It may seem that since the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776,
Americans have been completely and utterly obsessed with personal freedom—waving it around like a flag in the fight over the right to own guns, socialize health care, nationalize industries and other intrusions Americans have long considered to be none of the government’s business. What then, does freedom and individuality look like to someone who must drop everything they are doing at the age of 18 and serve in their country’s military? In places like Singapore and South Korea, personal autonomy is faced with a dilemma that manifests itself in compulsory military service. There are many reasons for conscription. Countries like Armenia, Israel and Iran fear invasion of external threats but also use the draft as a way to seek a common identity. Advocates of the military draft often argue that a conscript military is more “representative” of society than a professional army that draws its staff disproportionately from the poorly educated, the lower classes, ethnic minorities or otherwise marginalized strata of society. Conscription is not only more egalitarian but has the ability to serve as a melting pot for groups that would otherwise have little mutual contact, thereby forging national identity, loyalty to the nation or social respect. The Israeli Defense Force does so by integrating diverse strata of Israel’s society, including immigrants from the scattered Jewish diaspora. In post-unification Germany, conscription was defended as a way to bring males from the eastern and western parts of the country together. Although abandoned in 1973, there are still many proponents of the American draft, most of whose sentiments echo those of Israeli, Singaporean and South Korean conscription. In a speech in October 2017, John Kelly, a retired four-star general and President Trump’s Chief-of-Staff essentially said that those
“I will always go back and fight. I would die for my country.”
who haven’t served in the military—meaning nearly all Americans—cannot really understand those who have. “We don’t look down upon those of you who haven’t served,” Kelly said. “In a way, we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll never experience the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kind of things our servicemen and women do.” In a New York Times editorial, Clyde Haberman addressed Mr. Kelly’s remarks, mentioning that although incredibly patronizing, they deserved serious consideration. “Reviving the draft would mean that most American families have skin in the game when their political leaders embroil the country in a war of choice. It doesn’t take much of an intuitive leap to guess that the last 16 years of war would have unfolded differently if more than a tiny cadre of America’s sons and daughters had to fight.” Joseph Kum is a dual citizen of the Philippines and Singapore—he was born in the Philippines and then raised in Singapore until he was 9 years old. Not a resident of Singapore at the time of his conscription, his experience with Singaporean enlistment altered the way he viewed his national allegiance. His failure to file an exit permit before moving overseas led to a long drawn out legal debate, resulting in him being fined and blacklisted. At only 13 years old, he was sucked into a painful legal battle with the government of a country he did not even consider home—all because of the draft. A small and vulnerable country in a turbulent world, Singapore’s decision to revert to compulsory service was a reaction to the aftershocks of economic crisis, disease, terrorism and above all a lack of unification. Internally, fault-lines were emerging between what was traditionally known as race and religion, creating divides between foreigners and locals, old and young generations. On March 14, 1967, national service became compulsory for all 18-year-old male Singaporean citizens and permanent residents. Kum refers to the “horrendous” period in which Japan invaded Singapore as both traumatizing and catalyzing. From the time of its establishment as a British trading post in 1819 to its independence in 1965, Singapore has always had a bit of an inferiority complex—its diverse society, along with lack of land and resources has led many to foster the belief that the country would be untenable as an independent state. “Singaporeans are paranoid individuals,” Kum says. “They are too scared and anxious for things yet to happen.” But whether or not Singapore’s military plays a concrete role in protecting its nation is up for debate. Unlike countries like Israel, South Korea and Taiwan, Singapore is not currently faced with any clear threats to their sovereignty. Many Singaporeans see the military as a device to “delay” an attack, as in the event of a real war, the tiny nation of Singapore would not stand a chance against any of its aggressors. For many, national service is seen as a chore, a waste. For Kum, his contract to Singapore is a way of being held hostage. Although mandatory service technically lasts for two years, servicemen are still required to serve 10 years in the national reserve, returning to complete training from as little as two weeks and up to one month per year. In Switzerland, military service is mandatory for all
Ki Parkâ€™s South Korean military uniform.
men upon turning 18. Jean-Yves Pidoux, who served in 1978, lasted two days in the military. His favorite descriptors when recalling his time in the army are stupid and unbearable. “I have very little sympathy for physical violence and ordinary machismo,” he says, “I have always been very opposed to the use of weapons, and did not understand how one can put one’s life at risk by threatening the lives of others. I made the reflection of Victor Hugo, who said in essence that if there are wars, it is because there are armies.” Like Singapore, Switzerland’s army is not a direct response to external threats—the Swiss army fought its last war in the Napoleonic Wars in alliance with Great Britain and Russia, and that war ended in 1815. At roughly 150,000 troops, the Swiss army is about the same size as the Austrian, Belgian, Swiss, Norwegian and Finnish armed forces combined, excessive when put in the perspective of Switzerland’s tradition of neutrality in international affairs. It’s important to keep in mind that conscription in Switzerland is not the same as, say, the two- to three-year tour of duty that most Israelis begin at age 18. But there’s also a difference in the nature of the risk as well. Since 2007, Swiss conscripts aren’t even issued a box of ammunition. The risk of a shooting war with neighboring Austria isn’t exactly the same as the very real risks of any number of security challenges that conscripts in the Israeli Defense Forces face. South Korea’s conscription comes from a place in history, but the threat of conflict remains very real. As the nuclear threat from North Korea looms larger than ever, South Koreans are soberly evaluating their country’s military readiness. Although the history of modern South Korea is short, its remnants still linger. New forms of militarism have been created in the interaction between the present and the past, and they find themselves entrenched throughout South Korean society. Many recruits enter this phase of their lives simply hoping for normalcy to await them at the other end of their training. But South Korean military officials describe the mandatory service as less an interpretation than a conversion: citizens become soldiers, and during five weeks of basic training, the recruits pitch tents, climb ropes, walk 18 miles through darkness and emerge as different people. South Korea’s compulsory military service remains controversial, with politicians debating its merits and dangers. But in the meantime, conscription leads to something less hypothetical: a cycle in which men enter the service, adapt to lives of potential danger, then try to re-adapt to the
lives they knew before. In fact, it is often seen as the primary rite of passage for Koreans. But while military service is a formative experience, in many cases, it is only for half the population. Currently, only nine countries have laws allowing for conscription of women into their armed forces: China, Eritrea, Israel, Libya, Malaysia, North Korea, Norway, Peru and Taiwan. Other countries—such as Finland, Turkey, Singapore and South Korea—still use a system of conscription that is only obligatory for men. If mandatory military service acts to give power to its participants—in the form of pride, training and social experience—then why will it not extend that power to the entire population? In 2017, a petition to make it compulsory for women in South Korea to serve in the national army went viral, collecting over 70,000 signatures in three days, with 123,204 signatures overall. Gender cannot be overlooked in the military debate. Serving a country may very well be empowering, but it is important to note to whom that power is granted. All over the world, even where women can serve, the military is a masculinized institution. The organizational culture of armies is heavily gendered—female soldiers everywhere face discrimination and sexual harassment. Would the creation of a draft simply enhance these issues, and give more power to an already male-dominated, overtly masculine entity? “An exclusively male draft perpetuates hyper-masculinity,” says Singaporean Valerie Tan. “It shows us that men have to be some kind of protector of aggressor in society and that women should stay home and care for children.” “More problematically,” she says, “this is a reflection of an incredibly deep-seated ideology that can’t be easily changed. Underlying our society is that men contribute more than women, and the rewards they receive—that take many forms—are just passively accepted.” Recalling his first few days in the Swiss army, Pidoux notes with disgust the extreme machoism and anti-intellectual nature of his fellow conscripts. On his first day, the soldiers spent their free time playing card games. But by the second day, they had ditched the cards for wrestling matches and telling fart jokes. “For those who found this period tolerable, the argument for serving was that it would allow them to get to know other young Swiss from other parts of the country. The argument of the army as a place of ‘cultural’ integration for a country divided into regions quite different from each other, where different lan-
“Subjugation to militarism and obtuse standardization, as well as an abject view of masculinity, still seem to me to be more decisive than the alleged integration and consolidation of a rather fictitious national unity.”
guages are spoken, was the least inadmissible one to me,” he says. “But subjugation to militarism and obtuse standardization, as well as an abject view of masculinity, still seem to me to be more decisive than the alleged integration and consolidation of a rather fictitious national unity.” An increasing sense of passivity is emerging in the younger generations of conscripts. Joseph Kum reflects on his father—a proud man who believes in the strength of Singapore and his own duty to protect it. Split between two countries, he does not share the sentiments of his father, but perhaps he is not alone. Ki Park remarks on the new generation of South Korea. “Young people now are influenced by new ideals from other places in the word that we see on TV and the internet. We aren’t really thinking about Korea.” One rationale for a draft is that each of us has an obligation to our state because we are members of a nation. But as technology advances and the world becomes increasingly globalized, borders are more
porous and communication between people is easier. Joseph Kum, although a dual citizen, feels loyalties to neither Singapore or the Philippines. Instead, he sees himself as a “global citizen.” In an increasingly globalized world, are purely nation-based identities still relevant? Must we define ourselves by the country we live in, and therefore feel the need to protect that identity through institutions like the military? According to Kum, Singapore’s draft did not take away or grant him power. It did not force him to think a certain way about his country, or even others. Instead, power comes from a person’s own individual way of thinking. “I think way beyond the boundaries of citizenships, race and nationality. I think that these things are what divide us. It divides us as human beings and it divides us as citizens of the world.”
Generation Why? How millennials are using social media as a platform for change. BY CHANET SMITH PHOTOGRAPHED BY SOPHIA FOERSTER
illennials are stereotyped as the laziest, most entitled, narcissistic and self-absorbed out of all of the generations because of their technology, internet and social media habits—they just can’t be without their devices. Gen Y, or millennials, are also the most controversial of the generations because of their tendency to question authority. Researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss define the millennials as those born in 1982 and approximately the 20 years thereafter. They’re branded as lazy because they think they can get everything at the click of a button, from pizza to relationships, it’s all available online. They’re entitled because they’re seen to jump from job to job, when in reality this is due to the lack of decent jobs available. The age of social media has created interest in sharing one’s life online, which can be taken as narcissistic and self-absorbed, but it’s just millennials preferred method of communication. Sharing a post with many is easier than calling everyone individually. The millennial generation is the only group of people that went from pre-digital to fully immersed into a digital world therefore getting both ends of the spectrum in their earlier and most permeable years of life. Yet, something stimulating rises through millennial’s assertive personalities—their tendency to ask why. Why should I work a 9-to-5 job? Why should I have faith in my government? Why should I just believe what I’m told? Maybe this is where the sense of entitlement comes from, but the millennial way of pushing boundaries has led us into a new era of escaping conformity and exposing social issues. Times have changed—markets, economy, globalization—we need to ask these types of questions that will reform current systems in order to keep moving forward. Millennials are perceived to not be as engaged with political and social issues due to their “entitled” and “self-absorbed” reputation. Yet reports prove this to be false. Their self-awareness has benefitted awareness in society which fed into the necessity to make change. Research statistics were released by the Millennial Impact Report, a yearly report studying engagement with social causes and survey of 3,000 millennials. Seventy-one percent believe that the USA is going in the wrong direction and claim civil rights/racial discrimination, employment, healthcare, climate change, education and environment are their top priorities for reform. Forty-nine percent consider themselves social supporters, who support reformation policy and encourage campaigns and organizations. Twenty-one percent are activists, which includes people leading organizations, campaigns, and pushing to reform policy.
Tomislava Tomova, the 21-year-old President of Campus UNICEF at the American University of Paris says, “The millennial generation is lucky to have been growing up in times where the world’s knowledge is accessible on a device that we carry in the palm of our hands. We can just type it in Google and inform ourselves about causes.” Millennial’s crucial years of development were the same time technology was rapidly advancing, giving them knowledge in a world with and without internet and social media. Where millennials differ from previous generations is their power in their platforms— social media, YouTube, blogging and the internet. Social media has become such an influential place for people of all ages. The use of sharing and virality is so abundant when it comes to raising awareness on social issues and concerns. Generation Y is extremely connected online, with their circle and with the world. Voicing an opinion on a Twitter thread or commenting on Facebook automatically brings commenters into conversation with thousands of other people. Activism isn’t limited to the traditional form anymore. Rather than solely flocking in front of buildings to protest, we are enhancing activism involvement through virtual platforms and forming groups online. Tomova has over 12,000 Instagram followers. She uses not only her connections at UNICEF and local news outlets back home in Bulgaria to spread awareness of the social causes she’s passionate about, but her Instagram and blog as well. Her platforms receive quite a large audience since she has partaken in small roles with Vogue, Sephora, UNICEF and other major companies. With her work in an NGO dealing with migration, she wanted to start a campaign to raise awareness of women from around the world and share their stories. Tomova’s online campaign MeForHer celebrates “the extraordinary acts of women and inspires women to stand together for other women, as a united force to advance gender equality.” She says, “My campaign will aim to stand against the constrain of creativity and talent and the suffocation of inclusion and pluralism.” Tomova says, “Although some might define that as ‘slacktivism’ I think that if you truly care about an issue, you will be involved in more ways than just signing a petition.” Slacktivism can be defined as “the practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media or online petitions, characterized as involving very little effort or commitment.” We give a lot beyond slacktivism such as participating in volunteer programs, petitions, NGOs and donating money, but does this really make a difference? Ava Andrea, 21, a student and young adult mov-
“The millennial generation is lucky to have been growing up in times where the world’s knowledge is accessible on a device that we carry in the palm of our hands.”
ing into the working world speaks on her opinion of her generation and her own efforts in social change. “I typically donate to certain GoFundMe fundraisers, for example for sick people that need help with medical bills, etc. I signed an online petition to get the Stanford swimmer rapist Brock Turner to get a longer prison sentence.” We face many of these issues on the other side of a computer screen, but none the less, technology has allowed us to reach out to a larger audience. Using platforms to circulate information online creates a bigger physical movement. By mass sending information on a platform, organizing a physical march, protest or boycott has been extremely successful—for example, the women’s march, the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest and reforming NRA gun control. The women’s march attracted more than 4 million people worldwide because of a single Facebook event. The act of sharing the event gave it virality, which spread to the powerful and historic protest that it was. Facebook allowed for people who couldn’t attend the Dakota Access Pipeline protest to check-in at the event and show their support from around the world. Recently,
the shootings around the United States lead to many students using their social media to arrange a date to boycott school and create a movement against the NRA and current lackadaisical gun control. Andrea says, “Teenagers all over the USA are standing up against the NRA in hopes to change the laws concerning gun control. The millennial’s advanced knowledge of technology is helping spread awareness for issues. I would say millennials are very devoted to maintaining human rights.” Millennials are not just interested in cleaning up their own backyard, they are interested in global issues, from the environment to human rights and how it's affecting others. Not just for their own country but change for countries around the world through charity programs, volunteering, spreading education, and giving resources. There are numerous companies that advocate this type of work, such as IVHQ. International Volunteer HQ, is one of the largest volunteer programs where you can build, teach and create in countries around the world. Creator Daniel Radcliffe, age 34, just making the cut-off for the millennial generation, created
“The millennial’s advanced knowledge of technology is helping spread awareness for issues. I would say millennials are very devoted to maintaining human rights.”
this successful organization in 2007. Another substantial way millennials are making an impact is through companies that are proven ecological and humane or brands that support social causes. “Quiet activism” is defined by researcher Laura Pottinger as “small, everyday, embodied acts, often of making and creating, that can be either implicitly or explicitly political in nature.” Andrea says, “I’ve bought Toms a few years ago because I liked the idea that a pair of shoes goes to someone in need for every sale. It’s important that our consumerism makes a difference.” Sustainability has become so important that now being vegan/vegetarian is trendy as well as wearing sustainable clothing. Eating sustainable healthy foods and buying products that are sustainable is trendy as well. Millennials are more conscious of their ecological footprint. Social-awareness entrepreneurship does well with today’s market, not only from a consumer perspective but from a job-seeking perspective as well. Millennials seek integrity and authenticity in future institutions that hold power. A study from Stanford shows that MBA students joining the work force prefer companies with “reputation-related attributes of caring about employees, environmental sustainability, community/stakeholder relations, and ethical products and services.” A great example of this is FEED Projects—created by 33-year-old Lauren Bush in 2007. FEED sells bags and accessories to provide school meals for less fortunate children around the world. It has become an extremely successful company giving more than 10 million meals to date. An interesting aspect of their website is showing how many meals are donated for the item being purchased. Integrity is so important to us, that if we are going to rep it online, then we need to rep it in real life too. Previous generations weren’t given the technology to expose our human footprint on the planet. Global warming, melting of polar ice caps, fossil fuels, use of natural resources, pollution and more are now blatantly apparent to us. By the time sustaining our planet actually became a legitimate concern, generation X was set in their adult ways, and millennials were being born. Jon Miller conducted a study in 2011 on generation X and found that 37 percent of generation X are highly unconcerned with climate change and 51 percent don’t even bother to follow it. Instead, many felt strongly about terrorism, more so American generation X people, due to events that happened in the early 2000s, like the attack on the World Trade Center, and economy became very important. The unawareness and lack of concern from previous generations has left this massive weight on millennials’ shoulders. We’re accused of dropping the ball with our “slacking” and “lazy” attitudes, but I see a very different side of our generation. We are acting out, questioning authority and pushing boundaries. Andrea says, “In reality, the millennial is a very tech savvy group of people that are dealt an unfair hand. The world is very corrupt, and the millennial generation is left to deal with a lot of baggage.” Not only is Gen Y taking initiative through their online presence,
but prove it with their career choices and lifestyle. They have a lot of liveliness, and as time moves forward, more people will realize millennial’s power in their platforms and exercising it to make the world a better place.
60 Image credit: Jackie Wegwerth
Restyle Goodbye fast fashion, hello sustainability. BY ISABELLA CHRISTIAN
t’s 2018: a year when simply talking about change won’t help the imminent environmental crisis we’re in. It’s now about taking steps to educate oneself and act consciously and sustainably in every aspect of one’s daily life. Fashion is no exception. One of the recent major trends is “sustainable fashion.” Sustainable fashion is designed with the main goal of using a process to produce clothes that supports the positive human impact on the environment. Fast fashion refers to low-cost clothing collections that recreate looks seen on runways at fashion weeks across the world. It is instant gratification in its truest form. Around the world, 80 billion items of clothing are collectively “consumed” each year. Unfortunately, these short-lived trends have to end up somewhere, either in landfills or overseas to be sold at markets. By its very nature, fast fashion encourages disposability. Zara, H&M and Mango are stores that mass produce of-the-moment collections at a fraction of the cost of luxury clothes. Companies like Zara and Mango offer between 12 and 24 collections a year while traditional retailers offer 2–4. As a result, clothes have shorter lifespans than ever before. But how are the clothes so cheap from these fast fashion businesses? Labor is outsourced to factories in countries like Bangladesh, Turkey or Brazil where the pay is below a living wage. This is just one of the numerous unethical aspects of fast fashion conglomerates. Companies like Zara, owned by the corporation Inditex, do not officially own these factories—they are outsourced and owned by individuals in the home country. When disastrous events happen, they shift the blame from themselves to the individual factory owners. In 2013, the Bangladesh factory Rana Plaza, where clothes were made for brands including J.C Penney, Primark and Zara collapsed and took the lives of more than 1,000 workers. Catastrophes like Rana Plaza are the beginning of a catalyst of change for the fashion industry. After the collapse of the factory, a shock wave pulsated through the industry and new, ethics-focused brands began to gain more popularity. A slow but conscious shift is helped by the exposure of sustainable brands who are using their digital platforms to reach out to potential customers willing to change their minds about the way sustainable fashion looks. Guidelines and tips about what to do with old clothes and where to find sustainable new ones are easier to access thanks to the popularity of cool, trendy brands putting ethics at the core of their marketing campaigns. Reformation is a Los Angeles based brand doing just that. They let their slogan speak for itself, “Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We’re #2.” They take a friendly, conversational approach to teaching their customers about how the fashion industry affects the environment. Reformation shows that sustainable fashion is
Image credit: Veja
shifting from niche to best practice by helping their customers with simple and achievable ways to make changes (and look cute while doing it). Since its founding in 2009, Reformation has committed to making “killer clothes, that don’t kill the environment” by using recycled, vintage, or deadstock fabrics. Although they bring new styles from concept to stores in one month, they are not a stereotypical fast fashion brand. Reformation uses analytics to inform merchandising decisions—creating styles in small numbers first and then making more if they sell quickly—all in their own factory in downtown Los Angeles. Veja is another brand that is turning the economic fashion system on its head. This French sneaker brand that works directly with small producers in Brazil using materials like organic cotton and acacia-tanned leather (an environmentally-friendly substitute for substances like chrome that can oxidize and become toxic) for sophisticated and fashion-forward shoe designs. The company refuses to charge low prices so that they can pay their workers a fair wage and support the rights of their employees. Veja has been championing sustainable fashion for 14 years and continues to do so through their marketing technique. They have just added a “cultural pillar” to their sourcing program which includes a Paris-based concept store to showcase their products as well as host events to highlight social and environmental issues. The brand also refuses to use traditional advertising, instead spending the money on the production of their sneakers. Both Reformation and Veja keep sustainability at the core of their digital marketing strategies, especially on Instagram, where trendy brands like these reach countless customers. Sustainable brands frequently refer to their sustainable practices in the captions of their Instagram photographs including where their fabric or materials come from and how much energy or water was saved in doing so. Instagram is the most recent platform being used to reach the large number of customers who take an interest in fashion and aesthetics. Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform and the hashtag “sustainable fashion” has been used on almost 2 million posts on the app. Social media platforms like Instagram have allowed for sustainable fashion brands to spread their message of sustainability and positive ethics in order to affect change in an industry that needs help. Through this digital influence, unique and capsule-style collections from brands big and small have gained popularity with millennials and fashion-forward media-savvy individuals. The definition of traditional sustainability is meeting a current generation’s needs without compromising those of future generations. Sustainable fashion has evolved from earthy clothes that were not on the
Image credit: Jackie Wegwerth
radar of a fashionista to now being a viable and trendy option for young fashionable people. Younger consumers now question how their clothes are sourced and manufactured, some even making clothes themselves. This shift from fast fashion to sustainable fashion expresses the value that millennial consumers attribute to their clothes and the merit that unique garments hold over mass-produced ones. Creative Director of Infamous Vie and AUP student Arafat “Harpy” Adekunle has always been inspired by “a mix of unique streetwear pieces and high-end fashion.” Growing up, he was influenced by musicians like Michael Jackson, Kanye West and Lil Wayne. Now, his inspirations for his clothing line include anything from “a recycled handkerchief to a dress made in pearls.” Sustainable garments carry a unique weight and prestige to him, with the clothes from his Infamous Vie brand made from 50 percent recycled garments (thrift shop finds) and 50 percent organic cotton. The garments are all one-of-a-kind— once they’ve sold out, he doesn’t re-stock. Sustainable fashion practices are in fact trickling down to small brands and individuals that value unique garments crafted by hand. Millennials are spending more than other generations on clothing, but the recent vintage shopping trend is just one aspect helping to shift the scales from fast fashion to a sustainable way to shop. Twenty-one-year-old AUP senior Samantha Gilliams uses second-hand shopping as a way to express her unique sense of style, “I would rather buy something that I know does not harm the environment, animals, or the employees working for the brand. Additionally, I love finding vintage pieces but I feel like buying vintage is always a gamble because often times vintage items fall apart quickly if they are old or made of delicate fabric.” Vintage shopping, as Gilliams mentions, can often be a double-edged sword, but the value of a special vintage piece is worth more than a mass- produced t-shirt. Gilliams has been a part of the Brandy Melville product research and development team since 2013 and has visited multiple factories in various countries with the popular women’s clothing company. She has visited factories in China, Italy, Great Britain and the United States and explained that, “[The factories] are all usually large warehouses with machines going and people working. It’s not overcrowded and there are no unsafe fumes in the air.” With Gilliams’ insider knowledge she thinks the industry is adjusting to become more ethical but knows it won’t happen at a fast pace. She went on to explain that, for now, art lies at the root of fashion and is the focus of many designers, not yet sustainability or ethics. Sustainability is a goal that a growing number of individuals and brands in the fashion industry are working hard to achieve. Ethics are being put at the
forefront of brands as well as the sustainable processes they use to find materials and fabrics. This change will not happen overnight. It is a slow shift in values that starts with the brands and then trickles down to the consumer—whether they are cognizant of it or not. Alternative methods to fast-fashion like vintage shopping and repurposing individual garments for a clothing brand are ways that young people take steps to educate themselves and act consciously on behalf of the environment and the fashion industry. Hopefully, 2018 will bring further changes to shift the scales to put sustainable and ethical practices first in the fashion industry.
“This change will not happen overnight. It is a slow shift in values that starts with the brands and then trickles down to the consumer.”
Pitching Baseball to the French Can the quintessentialy American game catch on in France? BY HENRY HARDWICK ILLUSTRATED BY SOPHIA FOERSTER
ank sounds like the perfect baseball hero.” Written in the middle of a baby book with smiles abounding, those were the words where an American Dream was born. Embedded in the mythos alongside the likes of John Henry’s hammer and the flag at Iwo Jima are the swings of every man, woman and child who ever picked up a baseball bat. From the neighborhood sandlot to Yankee Stadium, that mound of dirt is where a kids’ game can turn into a career. A roster full of amateurs and heroes alike, it doesn’t matter whether you need help from “Angels in the Outfield” or can shatter lights with a home run like “The Natural” you are. All you need is “a beatup glove, a homemade bat, and a brand-new pair of shoes” to join those nicknamed ranks of lore where “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” Still, ask any baseball fan, and you’ll know it’s not really about the stats or the pennants won. Rather, there’s a reason why people stick baseball cards in boxes and bicycle spokes alike, visit every stadium across an entire continent, and play catch with their kids every day. Just like the atomic household and the melting pot, baseball’s more than a name, and more than an idea—it’s a collective memory shared by the masses. A way of life that’s not just for the American, but for any freedom-loving person who ever saw a ball fly and thought that they too could reach for the heavens. From the streets of Old Havana to the bright lights of Tokyo, it was never about the fame, but the game. Whether you stick it in your pocket or in a drawer, that little piece of leather will stick with you for life. It doesn’t matter if you toss it at a wall like “The Great Escape” or throw it high up while lying in bed. Each ball’s as great as its pitcher and catcher ever was, and that’ll always be enough. A beat-up Rawlings scrawled with the fading names of local legends long forgotten. A black-and-white photograph of a state school king from “the Greatest Generation.” A ticket stub to a major Hollywood production about tearing down the barriers of segregation so that “Maybe tomorrow we’ll all wear 42, that way they won’t tell us apart.” That’s
what baseball is about. Tough luck finding that in Paris. On a clear day you can see forever, but in an ancient city of Haussmannian streets and churches aplenty, there ain’t “Plenty of room to swing a rope,” much less a bat. Still, between the Tour de France being re-enacted at your friendly neighborhood Vélib’ station and rugby broadcast at every pub across Paris, it’s like Tolstoy said, “there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts,” and there’s no better place to prove that “Love is Like a Ball Game” than the city of love itself. Baseball is a global sport: just like Alphaville, it’s Big in Japan, the Caribbean and even Iraq amidst the War on Terror. Like Manifest Destiny set in motion across God’s green earth, no stone (or city) ought to be left unturned in the name of the “Old Ball Game.” Bypassing both time and space, even strangers in a strange land can find a sense of belonging in the most unlikely of places. That’s where a local amateur ball club comes in—Les Patriots de Paris. As an underdog team overshadowed by a city that barely acknowledges them, they know that they’re at the “bottom of the hierarchy.” Still, you don’t need numbers when you’ve got l’esprit d’équipe. With something to believe in, every day can feel like Opening Day. While baseball uniforms may not be haute couture, baseball and Paris have gone hand-in-hand since the turn of the 20th century. It all began with Albert Goodwill Spalding’s 1888–89 “Australian Base Ball Tour” played between Chicago and All-America. With the goal to share this “embodiment of American Spirit” with the world, the tour traveled from the Sandwich Islands to Paris. At the height of “a French baseball explosion,” the 1913–14 World Tour pitched baseball stars under the New York Giants against the Chicago White Sox across Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe. Despite this clash of the Titans, what really captivated the audiences in Nice were the attractions of grandeur such as the aviator Lacrouse’s aerobatics and Olympian Jim Thorpe’s acrobatics. However, with a rain check that never came through for Par-
is, the First World War nevertheless brought about a renewed enthusiasm in France for their bat-and-gun wielding allies such as Christy Matthewson and Jonny Evers. Living off the motto “If you can’t make a hit in a ball game, you can’t make a hit with me,” the French were soon trading in their baguettes for baseball bats with a production that rivaled the Louisville slugger. Of course, the playing field’s different in the City of Light. On an evening in Paris along the Grands Boulevards, a motley crew of baseball fans assembled under the roof of a Second Empire café. I sat down with two members of the Patriots de Paris ball club. Decked out in a Patriots baseball cap and a beer was Gaétan Alibert, vice president of the Patriots de Paris and a chronicler of all things baseball on the French websites Honus and The Strike Out. Stepping out of his overcoat and scarf to reveal a New York Knights uniform à la Superman was Stephen Saint-Guirons, a baseball player for the Patriots. Saying it all started with “an old Robert Redford movie on TV,” the humble beginnings were just like Roy Hobbs’, whose likeness he portrayed. When it came to the game, these men were veterans—just not of the Old Guard. Rather, they spoke with a fiery passion of baseball’s past, present and future not only in Paris, but across France. Beginning with an explanation of how Bonne Nouvelle had once been a baseball after-party epicenter in days past, they then moved on to their team, a rag-tag crew that formed a ball club which is approaching its 30th anniversary. A group of players who represent the same spirit as the New England legend—not the Front National. A gathering of 250 men, women and
children who believe in fun and friendship over anything else. Looking to the future, there’s still hope for baseball across the Pond. All it takes is a scene from “Field of Dreams” to know holding out for a hero’s simple as “If you build it, he will come.” With the MLB finalizing a two-game matchup of the Yankees against the Red Sox at the London Olympic Stadium in 2019, many hope that “more people will know the real baseball.” Alibert believes that “France will be the next big country for baseball,” and his eyes are on the grand prize: the upcoming Olympic Games. With baseball and softball making a triumphant return to the international scene in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and Los Angeles 2028 being the home of the Dodgers, Paris 2024 serves as the potential support that could uphold the enduring tradition of baseball not only in the Olympics, but on a global scale. Having previously been played in the city at the Paris 1924 Olympic Games in an exhibition match between the American and French teams, the return of the game a century later would be poetic at the very least. Still, the Patriots de Paris don’t believe the fate of baseball lies solely in Americanization. Rather, SaintGuirons chimed in that “it’s not that it’s an American sport, it’s really a way of life.” Claiming that it will only gain momentum “because it’s simple and natural,” a home run in Paris is a home run for the modern world. While America may do it bigger, there was contention on whether they really did it better. Citing everything from Japanese anime and manga to the number of Dominicans entering the ranks of the
MLB, the French understand that baseball is more than just an American game—more than just American, and more than just a game. Defying exclusivity, baseball is made up of the “colors of autumn on a field of dreams.” Whether it be down in the batter’s box or up in the cheap seats, Saint-Guirons exclaimed how “There’s something different about baseball, you can be tall, short, big, thin, black, white, yellow, brown ... any race, and become a star in baseball.” Still, asking about favorite teams is almost always the same: The New York Yankees. However, the Frenchmen had a different reason for choosing them than the usual bandwagon fan. Instead, they asked, “where would baseball be without them?” A conglomerate of legends from all over, they explained that “the Yankees are a very American story—outsiders becoming big.” While nobody in their right mind would put “Yankees” and “underdogs” in the same sentence, there was truth to the statement. When it comes to “Talkin’ Baseball,” the names roll off the tongue like those of old friends: “Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra.” These were the men who defined generations. These were men who fought their demons both on and off the field. It’s like Bob Costas’ eulogy for Mickey Mantle, “A role model and a hero. The first he often was not, the second, he always will be. And, in the end, people got it.”
That’s where the power truly comes from. When it comes to who gets remembered, it’s not the ones who take performance enhancing drugs in pursuit of immortality. It’s not even the ones who break records on the way to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Instead, it’s the ones who share a love for the game – a love that could make a difference in another’s life. It’s ‘Iron Man’ Lou Gehrig standing up to ALS (amytotrophic lateral sclerosis) when he said, “Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” It’s Jackie Robinson inspiring "Miracle Met" Ed Charles into knowing that “one of us had made it.” It’s Hank Aaron breaking the Great Gambino’s record with home run #715 and showing the world that there’s “a black man getting a standing ovation in the Deep South.” It’s a boy a long way from home learning to become a man. Holding onto a family legacy, knowing that his pa played, and so did his grandpa. Knowing that if he can make his own pitch, he can make his own memories. Knowing that if he writes it down, he can knock it out of the park. Knowing that if we read these words, we can be a part of it too.
“It’s not that it’s an American sport, it’s really a way of life.”
“There’s something different about baseball, you can be tall, short, big, thin, black, white, yellow, brown … any race, and become a star in baseball.”
What Do You Meme? How do memes affect our understanding of political events? BY MELISSA GOMEZ
crolling through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr, you are bound to find a political meme on the trending page. Viewers read it, understand it, like it and move on. Although quick with providing information, these political memes are a dangerous way of receiving news, only providing very little and biased information, having no authenticity, and creating a false reality in our political world. A meme is “an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.” These memes have a huge influence in our society today. With social media, whenever something huge happens in the political world, such as Trump’s latest tweet, Kim Jong Un’s nuclear experiments or the Russia-U.S. election scandal, memes pop up on various platforms, getting shared and liked. These memes even make cameos in newspapers, magazines and television shows. Young adults get different ideas from these memes, some viewing politicians poorly, and some viewing them as important figures in society, without knowing the full information. Some memes that have trended on social media recently are the ones in response to Brexit. A few months ago, the United Kingdom voted and decided for the country to leave the European Union, and many meme pages jumped at the opportunity to create new content. Many of the memes are negative, some making fun of politicians, the Prime Minister and even the Queen of England, while others just humiliating the United Kingdom as a whole. Parodies of “Straight Outta Compton” arose, now with the headline “Straight Outta Europe.” More memes followed, including one showing a group chat titled, “European Union” with a recent notification that Britain had left the group chat. These memes provide the information that the United Kingdom has left the E.U. but are vague with information. Providing no further information, viewers only understand what Brexit means as a definition, but not what the impact Brexit has on the United Kingdom.
Image credit from left to right: Twitter/garethr3008, Twitter/kp1200
Tilly Excell, a British student at the American University of Paris, discussed the impact of memes and how online social media affects the politics regarding Brexit. “When the votes were cast, London exploded in anger,” she explained, remembering the day. “Upper England voted for the U.K. to leave the E.U., but London didn’t. London wanted to stay in the E.U. Younger adults couldn’t vote, like I for instance couldn’t due to my age. It was mostly the older generation who voted. So [Brexit] happened, then our Prime Minister announced a resignation, then all these Brexit memes started circulating on the web, it just made the situation worse. It made people not understand what was happening.” These memes gained popularity among the younger crowd. Young individuals’ perceptions of politics are changing based off the very little information they get through these memes. Many people around the world outside of the United Kingdom don’t know much about Brexit, but when they log onto Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, memes pop up regarding the issue and they accept this information as sufficient knowledge of the topic. “It’s frustrating when people don’t fully understand the concept. I have people in
France come up to me asking if I left England to escape Brexit, but they themselves don’t comprehend what Brexit is and what it means to a British teenage girl like me. They don’t understand the impact leaving the European Union has. Some people don’t even know what Brexit is, even when it’s just a Google Search away for an answer,” Excell explained. Excell then noted how the day that Brexit was voted on, the pound currency dropped 11 percent. After Brexit, some British citizens living within countries outside of England realized they must return to their home country to retrieve visas allowing them to live or work outside of the U.K., and due to Brexit, there are now struggles of finding a job, especially when you’re a young adult. “I have friends who can’t find jobs. They’re only giving jobs to the older generation. Also, we’re having a passport color change soon. There’s so much happening, and the memes online aren’t telling you all the important information. They only provide the tip of the iceberg and people need to understand the whole story and the after effects.” A vote took place shortly after the initial one, asking whether people wanted to remain in the E.U.
after having a full understanding of what Brexit means. Many of the people changed their votes to stay part of the E.U. “Brexit should have been discussed a lot more before the vote took place as a lot of people were unclear and are still unclear today… what the main impact of it will be.” Excell explains. The full effects won’t happen until March of next year, when the U.K. does depart from the E.U. But the memes keep coming as the months go on. There are tons of pages featuring Brexit memes. But Brexit isn’t the only political discourse getting “memed out,” and it’s becoming more common to see these memes in our everyday lives. For many people around the world, it’s their first encounter with trending and breaking news today and molds their opinions of the matter before they complement their awareness of the issue with the facts from reputable news sources. Greta Gottardello, an American-Italian and close friend to Tilly Excell, spoke of her views on memes and Brexit. “I know what Brexit means and I am sort of familiar with it. I do see a decent number of memes on Brexit and politics on social media.” She
then paused for a moment, giving a little smile. “But to be completely honest with you I don’t know enough about Brexit to fully give a good explanation on what it actually is and what it means to a British person in the United Kingdom.” Gottardello then switched the subject from Brexit to memes, talking about their impact in society. “I feel like memes don’t have the impact themselves [on] today’s world and people. I think memes are more like reactions from individuals on certain situations, the reactions and opinions of other people [having] the impact, not the meme itself. But I believe memes can create and give a positive effect to people, because they provide good coping mechanisms... like a way to let their thoughts out and express yourself freely.” Today, less and less people have long attention spans so it’s hard to stay focused. People quickly get bored reading articles or watching the news, but when they see a funny or relatable photo of a real-life event that they understand or is trending in media, and they quickly get excited and share it to others. That’s how information gets spread today, through social media hashtags, photos and text. Individuals online create these memes to stir up debates, share their views and become more engaged in the political world online. Popular meme websites have popped up and been created, such as knowyourmeme.com which lets you search a database to find memes, news and videos and have discussions with others in forums. By clicking on the forums link, one of the first discussion threads to pop up is titled “Political General” with over 3,200 posts from 118 users. These forums let individuals around the world share images and discuss with other users, and debate on different topics. Even on sites like Reddit there’s already a meme tag, where people join discussions focusing on the topics of memes. Many millennials are on these type of sites, quickly becoming more active in politics, and since technology helps spread information quickly, young adults and teens are becoming advocates, using memes as a political strategy of some sort, calling for attention and change. The creators of memes are shedding light on issues and calling out their government, making others informed in politics and how they can advocate for change. Memes are always trending and growing with popularity as people can express their views freely and openly on a big platform. These memes are now the quickest news outlet, spreading information on huge sites, popular apps and news articles. As political discourses and tensions like Brexit continue, society will watch and respond with these political memes, as they grow with popularity.
I Got the Power!
BY JOAN JESSIMAN
ersonal empowerment is a commodity that holds more weight and meaning than some may think. It is about taking control of your life, making positive changes and setting goals in order to be more secure with yourself as an individual. Developing the confidence and strength to implement these goals adds to your feelings of being personally empowered. Through those around us and our life experiences, we gain a sense of personal empowerment as we mature and experience life. Having confidence and fulfilling your personal potential is something that each person should work towards every day. Some people know what their strengths and weaknesses are but often people are not aware of their abilities and undervalue what they can do. It’s vital not only to understand what personal empowerment is but also to implement activities that work towards achieving it. Five simple ways you can start to work on empowering yourself are yoga, meditation, cooking, advocacy and travel.
YOGA The practice of yoga began almost 5,000 years ago in Northern India and has since spread around the globe. Since its start, yoga has grown and now includes various practices and techniques including Hatha and Bikram that are practiced by millions around the world. Yoga is a discipline that focuses on breath control, simple meditation and specific body poses that is practiced both for health and relaxation. No matter if you’re a die-hard yogi or a beginner, yoga is a practice that is all about you. Yoga, though often done in a studio with others around you, is in fact a personal experience. There is no sense of competition in yoga, rather it focuses on the idea that each individual should concentrate on themselves and do what they are able during their practice. Yoga allows you to not only be more in sync with your body’s abilities but your mind as well. The practice of yoga is physical and mental. As your body moves through the poses, your mind focuses on what you are doing during the practice rather than other aspects of life. When you allow your body and mind to accept the practice and focus on what you’re doing, the practice will be more fulfilling. Being in a positive headspace in which you feel at ease, mentally balanced and content with what you’re doing is fundamental in order to gain personal empowerment. Being in this positive headspace will allow you to focus on the changes and tasks you want to develop to enhance your empowerment.
MEDITATION If yoga isn’t for you, meditation could be another outlet to explore. Yoga and meditation often go hand in hand as most yoga practices includes times of rest and meditation towards the end of the practice. The typical understanding of meditation is the resting of one’s mind in order to enter a new state of awareness that is different from everyday life. It focuses on breathing and can intensify personal and spiritual growth for many. Meditation is a practice that can be done anywhere at any time. If you’re busy and don’t have time to sit down to meditate you can do it on the go. Meditation can look and feel very different for each person. There are various practices of meditation such as sound meditation and visualization meditation. We often move through our days in hyper speed going from one activity to the next. Focusing on nothing but your breathing allows your body and brain to have a break from the stresses you put them through on a daily basis. Mindfulness is a key part of meditation. One should be mindful of themselves as well as mindful of their intention for their meditation. Being centered and quiet allows you to focus on what goals, ideas and actions you want to take in order to feel confident and grow your personal empowerment.
Background illustration by Sarah Bentov-Lagman Icons by Sophia Foerster
COOKING Preparing a meal for yourself and using your skill set of cooking can feel very empowering and boost confidence. Cooking requires practice, patience, time and trust in yourself. Understanding the process of buying food in the grocery store to eating it, as bizarre as it may sound, is very satisfying. It can be very therapeutic, even if you aren’t a professional in the kitchen. Buying food at a restaurant takes power away from us as we don’t know what ingredients, additives and cooking processes have been used. Cooking and seeing proof of this skill in a finished dish can be empowering for many and further one’s thoughts of worth and ability. If you have some basic skills in the kitchen, learning a new skill will further your confidence and put some control over what you eat back into your own hands.
ADVOCACY Having the confidence to voice your thoughts or opinions about something can leave you feeling empowered. Whether it’s animal rights or the equality of women, sharing your thoughts is a way to feel like you have more of voice. Everyone is born with a voice, buts it’s the way in which one uses it which can make all the difference. If you aren’t comfortable with public speaking, developing an online presence might be an outlet for you and your vocal empowerment. Commenting on posts, talking with people, and making new connections online is a great way to validate that your voice has been heard. When you feel and speak confidently about something that is important to you it encourages feelings of having personal empowerment that you are in control of.
TRAVEL Whether it is exploring a new part of a city or circling the globe in hopes of adventure, traveling, especially alone, can be a fantastic way to feel personally empowered. Navigating and experiencing a new place and culture can boost your confidence. If you travel alone you’ll be forced to navigate a place and interact with people who you might not be familiar with. It might seem daunting, but the involvement with a new space could change the way you look at yourself and your power. Going through a new experience alone shows your full potential and what you’re really capable of without the help of others. Trying new foods, meeting new people and accepting another culture will broaden your understanding of others and your place in the world.
Media Giants You’ve Never Heard of Stay app to date with media giants across the globe. BY CLARA PRADO
s millennials, we check Facebook daily, we probably post on Instagram once a week and we listen to Spotify every day. However, there is more to media than those American companies that we’ve come to love. There are many other media empires around the globe, and some are even bigger than Facebook. Here are some of the biggest companies that dominate the world’s market that you should know about.
Tencent As with any new media company, Tencent had a rough start after it was founded by Ma Huateng, Zhang Zhidong, Xu Chenye, Chen Yidan and Zeng Liqing in 1998. Struggling during their first three years, Tencent sold almost 50 percent of their shares to Naspers, a global internet and entertainment group and one of the largest technology investors in the world. Most of their profit in those challenging years came from the few premium users of their service QQ, an instant messaging software service. This software is still active and profiting more today than during those beginning years. As a branding move in 2005, they reinvented their way of conducting business by licensing their famous penguin wearing a red scarf. In 2008, they started profiting from virtual sales, gaming licensing and the production of their own games. Today, the conglomerate has 16 products in different areas including social networks, virtual payment and entertainment applications. It offers products similar to the western Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Spotify and so on. Being the first Asian media company worth more than $500 billion, it dominates the Chinese market and is increasing its influence abroad. Currently, 22 percent of Indian and 38 percent of Malaysian smartphone users have downloaded their WeChat app. Tencent is so big that it has achieved the status of the world’s most valuable social network, bigger than Facebook. According to Bloomberg Markets, Tencent is now worth $72 billion more than Facebook.
Bertelsmann The story of Bertelsmann is almost two centuries old. It tells of a family business that went from printing books to all other areas of the media market existing today. Bertelsmann was founded by Carl Bertelsmann in 1835 as a publishing house. His son Reinhard Mohn later took over the company and changed it from a medium size enterprise to the largest media company in the world—until 1989 with the rise of American media giants, such as the New York Times. Before this rise, Bertelsmann gained acquisition of Doubleday and RCA in 1986. The Bertelsmann group was managing its place in the world’s biggest media market. The shift to other areas of media such as television, direct distribution, music, press media and communication services and digital technology happened gradually over the years. The company continued to expand, but they did not end the initial business of book publishing. Today, Bertelsmann SE & Co. has shareholdings in more than 50 countries but is still majorly controlled by the Mohn family. The conglomerate is Europe’s largest and most successful media enterprise consisting of 1,200 companies and having an annual profit of almost 700 million euros. They manage 42 TV channels and 32 radio stations in 10 countries, as well as approximately 30 production companies in 40 countries. Additionally, they boast 35 million members in 24 different countries composing their book and music club. Maintaining the company’s history, Gruner + Jahr the conglomerate’s printing section is still based in Gütersloh, Germany. They now employ over 14,941 people and are present beyond their base in Germany in 30 countries, several of them being outside of Europe.
Rede Globo O Globo made its debut in 1925 as a newspaper. The company, founded by Roberto Marinho, soon went from paper to an audiovisual format. O Globo became a free-to-air regional network in Rio de Janeiro in 1965. In the next year, the network started to go national, creating its second headquarters in São Paulo and changing its name to Rede Globo. Today, Rede Globo is controlled by the three billionaire Marinho brothers, whose combined net worth is $28.3 billion, making them the richest family in Brazil. Rede Globo follows a unique style, as the conglomerate creates dramaturgical content, sport commentary as well as news. Their content first went abroad in 1973 when the channel sold its telenovela (a television soap opera, usually having a limited number of episodes) production “O Bem Amado” to Uruguay, that later translated it to Spanish. Today Rede Globo has control of almost 40 percent of Brazil’s daily television audience. Rede Globo is South America’s largest TV network and the second-largest network worldwide, only losing to ABC Television Network. Rede Globo is also the largest producer of telenovelas worldwide, surpassing Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela. Their telenovelas are usually more expensive and elaborate, earning the shows world recognition and Emmy nominations since 2008. Only producing content in Portuguese, a language officially spoken in four countries, it is impressive that Rede Globo’s productions and channels are present in 130 countries. Having its content translated into 24 different languages, with an average audience of 100 million viewers worldwide every day, Rede Globo is another media giant that you should know about.
The Times Group Bennett, Coleman & Co. (The Times of India Group) The Times Group, also known as the Bennett, Coleman & Co, was founded by the Sahu Jain family on November 3, 1838. The conglomerate started as the Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce as a biweekly publication. In 1850, their success was so huge that the shareholders decided to transform them into daily news. In 1859, they merged with the Bombay Standard and Chronicle of Western India to create the Bombay Times & Standard. In 1861 they adopted the name that remains: the Times of India. Its ownership changed many times until Thomas Bennett and Frank Morris Coleman acquired the company in 1892 in New Delhi, India under the Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd enterprise. Today the company is more stable than ever and still majorly controlled by the Sahu Jains family. They employ 13,419 people to support their $1.2 billion empire. The conglomerate present in India and South-Asia acts in all areas of media. It has the world’s largest daily English broadsheet, the Times of India. It is a leader in the printing business, publishing newspapers, magazines and books. It is also present in the entertainment sector with television channels, radio, music, movies and specialized publications. It has been supplying the Indian market for 180 years and is now broadening its outreach to the rest of the world, having the largest circulation of any English-language newspaper in the world.
Presidential Remarks A sit-down with the world’s first female president. BY VERA JÓNSDÓTTIR
igdís Finnbogadóttir was born and raised in Reykjavík. After finishing her secondary studies in Reykjavík Junior College, she went to France to pursue further education. She became the first single female in Iceland to adopt a child in 1971. In 1980, she became the first democratically elected female head of state as well as the longest serving female head of state to this day. The Peacock sat down with Vigdís to ask her about France and the French language, her presidency, and women’s rights.
Q: What made you decide to run for president? A: In the Icelandic presidential elections of 1980, it was the public’s opinion that it was impossible to vote for a president if at least one of the candidates was not a female—and those same people thought that I should be that woman. I myself did not even consider this, but in the end, I gave in to a lot of pressure when I received a message from a whole trawler crew that was fishing just outside of Westfjords—every single crew member had signed the letter. A big message! Fishermen trust women—they take care of everything while their men are far away at sea, the family, finances, education, and everything that needs else to be done on land. Q: Today, Iceland is the most progressive country in the world when it comes to equal rights between the sexes. Do you think your years as a president affected this? A: Yes, without a doubt. I know that I inspired many women. They would think, “If she can do that then I must be able to do this and that.” Q: How has French shaped your life and languages in general? A: It is clear at first glance that this has had an immense impact on my life. I am a francophone and a Francophile and had at a certain time in my life a career based on this in the Icelandic education system, secondary schools, universities, television, etc.
Q: You went to the University of Grenoble and then to the Sorbonne. What was the most difficult part of moving away from your homeland to a new culture and language? A: The whole time I was at secondary school in Reykjavík I knew I wanted to go to France and get to know French culture. I believed that France was the heart of European culture. Therefore, I refused to be discouraged or even think about being homesick. Q: Did you experience sexism when you were running and after you were elected? How did you respond to it? A: Of course I have experienced sexism—I know no woman who has not. The funniest thing is that men usually do not realize when they are being sexist! Let us not forget that most men are sensible—free from sexist views—such as my fishermen. Q: What was it like being a young woman in Paris when you studied here? Do you think it is any different today? A: I think it is completely up to oneself what it is like being a young woman in Paris. I mostly learned my French from attending theaters (this was in the avant-garde time) and I most likely learned as much of the spoken language by watching movies—then all foreign movies were dubbed and shown in French.
Q: What is a woman’s key to success in this world?
Q: What do you think of today’s politics and the enduring lack of women in the political field?
A: To believe in herself.
A: Women are half of mankind—that is why they should have a say in all political decisions.
Q: How do you find the balance between personal and professional life? A: By giving both aspects the space that they need as well as your own positive aspects.
Q: What thoughts went through your head when you woke up to the news that you had been elected president? A: Now I need to stand my ground and do my best!
Image credit: © Nationaal Archief
cMarketing Consuming McDonald’s ads from around the world. BY VALERIIA SEROVA cDonald’s burgers have consolidated supersized success all over the globe. The secret ingredient that makes McDonald’s irresistible isn’t something stored in the fridge, but rather a non-perishable personalized marketing experience. This quintessential American chain strives to further expand its customer base by embracing different cultures while retaining a strong brand to be immediately identifiable. In order to realize how McDonald’s achieves this balance, we delved deeper into the comprehensive nature of McDonald’s marketing approach by taking a look at five countries with distinct cultural values: the United States, Finland, Japan, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
A country in which nanotechnologies go hand in hand with traditions and customs act at par with laws. Japanese culture is a fantastic mix of the Eastern heritage and Western achievements, novelty and establishment, electronics and ancient monuments. People here appreciate silence and personal space as much as food while keeping the traditional way of eating in small portions and, most importantly, with chopsticks. Inspired by the combination of all these factors, Moroch Agency created a McDonald’s marketing campaign which was released in Japan in 2016. No oily ingredients in this picture. Instead, a tiny and healthier looking Big Mac caught between a pair of chopsticks beneath the caption “Serving Japan since 1971” attracts the eyes of Asian burger lovers and awakens hunger.
Are Arab cultural traditions and American fast food incompatible? Not at all. In Saudi Arabia, Western fast food is increasingly preferred to rich national cuisine. As the global restaurant consulting group Aaronallen & Associates reports, McDonald’s percentage of market share growth is 4 percent between 2012–2015, while Saad Aldins’ share, a local fast food restaurant, has increased by just 0.5 percent. In Arab culture, food has always been of great importance and is now becoming the main way of entertainment for wealthy citizens of modern Saudi Arabia. People think that it is important to diversify their meals and show that they can afford to eat different food every time. McDonald’s has managed to adjust to local tastes and culture. One of its advertisements has a reference to the festival Eid Mubarak, which marks the end of Ramadan—a month when Muslims fast throughout the day and eat only at night. Potato hands with the starry sky in the back beckon night eaters to feast on french fries and other American style dining options. Advertisers do a good job by representing one of the most important holidays and appealing to Muslims’ ‘profound respect for their religion.
Image credits from left to right: Japan © Moroch; Saudi Arabia © Leo Burnett; Finland © DDB; Russia © Moroch; United States © McDonald’s
to penetrate the Russian market with the Big Mac, McDonald’s had to localise their marketing strategies. Three Big Macs taking the form of Russian nesting dolls turned out to be the solution which combined Russian traditions with American taste. It caught everyone’s attention: gawkers, busy workers, students and everyone else that the Russian branches have been “Serving since 1990.”
Close your eyes and think of Finland. The very first image that comes to mind likely consists of amazing landscapes of Northern Lights and, of course, hockey. However, what is not so widely known about the Finns is their love of cheese. Don’t be surprised—Finland is a homeland of sweet and soft cheese. For decades, it has been served at home and in restaurants; it has become an imperative part of this Northern culture. “Cheesy” love is a key concept in the creation of the Finnish advertisement for the McDonald’s Double Cheese Burger. On the advert, instead of a greasy burger, heavily loaded with calories, there is a piece of the fresh, homemade cheese the Finns are so proud of. The Finnish advertisement targeted cheese lovers and hid the unhealthy nature of a double cheeseburger behind a tasty morsel of cheese. As a Finn, wouldn’t you be “lovin’ it”?
The combination of french fries and hamburgers is an inalienable part of the States and its citizens. The “meat and potatoes” tandem has been the core of American food since the eighteenth century. The very first printed reference to a burger occurred in the Los Angeles Times in 1894 and today Americans can choose among 300,000 fast food restaurants serving their own rendition of “meat and potatoes.” As time went by, Americans understood that it is not necessary to carry a bundle of food with them to work because they can always find a place which offers an inexpensive, tasty and hot lunch. McDonald’s was seen as a fast way of getting lunch or snacking in between jobs. A burger became a perfect option for a calorie boost and hunger satisfaction. McDonald’s advertisements in the United States catch the eye of a passerby with nothing but a Big Mac’s patty sparkling from the oil, topped with melted American cheese dripping on the table and toppings of different creamy sauces flowing down the bun. Such combinations of tastiness and simplicity on the advertisement attract those craving a bite of the burger.
A country whose cuisine is full of lush desserts and meat pies, succulent meat plates and other diverse options for unhealthy eaters was not left out by the global spread of American fast food. Even though Russia saw the very first branch of McDonald’s open only recently in 1990 in Moscow, it is one of the most popular chains which is located on almost every corner. Local bistros had kept their American fast food brothers out for years; they kept holding onto their tasty, homemade and cheap food. In order